Nicotine vaping now a top form of teen substance use


Nicotine vaping is one of the most common types of substance use for teenagers in 2022, according to results from a national study released Dec. 15.

Among eighth-grade students, 7% vaped nicotine in the past 30 days in 2022, compared with 6% who used alcohol and 5% who used cannabis. Among 10th-graders, 14% vaped nicotine in the past 30 days, compared with 13.6% and 12% for alcohol and cannabis use, respectively. 

Among 12th-grade students, the past 30-day prevalence of nearly 21% for nicotine vaping was below alcohol use at 28% but similar to cannabis at 20%.

The results come from the Monitoring the Future study, conducted annually by a team of professors at U-M’s Institute for Social Research.

The study has surveyed nationally representative samples of adolescents in eighth and 10th grades since 1991 and 12th-graders since 1975. It is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, and assesses adolescent use of dozens of substances.

“Many people are not aware just how common nicotine vaping has become among teens,” said Richard Miech, principal investigator of the study and research professor at ISR. “Its use increased rapidly in 2018 and 2019, and it has stuck around since then. What began as an epidemic of teen vaping is on its way to becoming endemic.”

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, Miech said, and exposure in adolescence can affect brain development and prime it for future substance use.

While vaping has potential to help adults quit cigarette smoking, exposing the young brain to nicotine can cause lasting, physical addiction, he said. Further, emerging evidence suggests that e-cigarettes may come with their own health risks, such as damage to blood vessels.

Additional findings from the 2022 Monitoring the Future study focus on adolescent drug use before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and are reported on the NIDA website.


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