Scientists at the University of Michigan have found that young people are struggling to quit nicotine products.
Each year, researchers at the University of Michigan survey thousands of eighth-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students nationally about smoking and other substance use habits. The latest survey was conducted in early 2020, in the months before schools closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey noted that since 1997, the prevalence of students reporting smoking traditional cigarettes, known as combustible cigarettes, had declined, as had the percentage of those reporting failed attempts at quitting. But in 2020, the researchers added a new question: “Have you ever tried to stop vaping nicotine and found that you could not?”
Their findings are worrisome, health advocates say. The percentage of students who reported unsuccessfully trying to quit either e-cigarettes or traditional cigarettes, roughly 6 percent, was considerably higher than the prevalence of unsuccessful attempts to quit cigarettes alone in each of the previous 13 years. (Some teens reported using both types of products and trying to quit both.) Much of the increase was from those struggling with e-cigarettes.
The survey’s recent findings for 2021 found a decline, for a total of over 2 million e-cigarette users, but comes with a big caveat: the authors said the data can’t be compared to previous years because the surveyors made significant changes to their format. They collected data online because so many children were not at school. Prior to 2021, the survey was conducted in person, inside classrooms.
With kids back in school, and more opportunities to snag vaping devices shared or sold by friends, some administrators say they are seeing vaping climbing again.