The Alarming Vaping Epidemic Among High School Students

The Alarming Vaping Epidemic Among High School Students

Two new studies released by federal health officials reveal that many teens continue to engage in risky behaviors by vaping. This could lead to a lifetime of nicotine addiction and drug abuse. In this article, we explore the alarming trends, the role of e-cigarette manufacturers, and the potential consequences of vaping.

The CDC's Findings on Teen Vaping

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released these findings in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). They highlight several alarming trends showing teenagers regularly using vaping forms of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and non-prescribed opioid medications.

Electronic Cigarettes: A Safer Alternative?

Electronic cigarettes were initially marketed as a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. However, manufacturers like JUUL have taken advantage of the consumer market by designing vapes attractive to teenagers. These devices often feature sleek USB-shaped designs and come in various candy-like flavors.

JUUL's E-Cigarette Lawsuits

Over the last several years, numerous JUUL e-cigarette lawsuits have blamed the manufacturer for targeting teens and young children. This has resulted in a large number of teens and prior non-smokers starting to vape, developing addictions to the high levels of nicotine contained in the pods.

Over A Third of All Teens Try Vape Nicotine Products

According to the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey published on April 28, one in five teens vape regularly, and roughly one-third of teens report having ever tried e-cigarettes.

A Closer Look at the Data

Researchers analyzed data from 2015 through 2021, focusing on teen vaping habits. They looked at teens who have ever vaped, current users in the past 30 days, and daily users. The study also questioned teens about where they got their e-cigarettes.

In 2021, 36% of teens reported having ever tried e-cigarettes, 18% vaped currently, and 5% reported vaping daily. Over half of the students said they had gotten their vape products from a friend, family member, or someone they knew.

The data shows that more female students reported currently using e-cigarettes or ever having used them compared to male students. Daily use rates and ever-use rates were lowest among Asian students. Ever-use and daily use rates were highest among bisexual students compared to non-bisexual students.

While the overall use of tobacco and smoking products declined from 45% in prior years to 36% in 2021, use among male and female students of Black, Latino, multiracial, and white students increased. The increase among white students was the most notable, rising from 2% to 6.5%.

The CDC's Warning on Vaping's Consequences

As the vaping epidemic worsens in the U.S., more teens use e-cigarettes, opting for nicotine use that not only doesn’t help tobacco cigarette users quit smoking but also can lead to long-term e-cigarette addiction. The CDC warned that the increasing use of vaping products among various ethnicities of teen groups continues despite widely available and highly publicized side effects of vaping.

Teen Drug Use On The Rise

In a separate report published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on April 28, researchers also found teens regularly engaging in substance abuse, which may be a continuation of habits picked up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers reviewed data from the Youth Risk Behavior Study and assessed changes in substance use from 2019 to 2021. They found that nearly 30% of teens reported using alcohol, marijuana, or misusing prescription opioids within the past 30 days. Overall, more than one-third of teens reported using two or more substances within the past 30 days.

Inhalant Use Among Teens

The report raised concerns that teens began using inhalants more during the pandemic. Inhalants are a category of household products, often cleaners, that are breathed in to produce a high. Researchers indicated that reduced access to drugs or alcohol may have contributed to teens searching for alternative substances to abuse, such as oven cleaner, glue, paint thinner, and nail polish removers used as inhalants.

The Need for Further Surveillance and Prevention

The findings of the two studies are the first to show trends among teen substance abuse habits during the pandemic. They demonstrate the imminent need for further surveillance of teen tobacco, vaping, and substance use to understand teen product usage.

Researchers involved in both studies indicated that these findings should be used to help create strategies, prevention programs, and other practices to reduce teen substance use, risk factors, and implement protective practices for teens.


In conclusion, the vaping epidemic among high school students is a growing concern. The CDC's warning highlights the need for increased awareness and prevention efforts. It is crucial to address the issue and protect the health and wellbeing of our youth.


  1. What percentage of high school students vape regularly?One in five high school students vape regularly, according to the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
  2. What are some reasons for the increase in teen vaping?Attractive designs, candy-like flavors, and targeted marketing by manufacturers like JUUL have contributed to the increase in teen vaping.
  3. How does vaping affect tobacco cigarette users?Vaping does not help tobacco cigarette users quit smoking and can lead to long-term e-cigarette addiction.
  4. What other substances are teens using during the pandemic?Teens are increasingly using inhalants, such as oven cleaner, glue, paint thinner, and nail polish removers, to get high during the pandemic.
  5. What can be done to address the vaping epidemic among teens?Creating strategies, prevention programs, and implementing protective practices can help reduce teen substance use and risk factors.