The rates of eighth, 10th and 12th graders who use e-cigarettes continued to rise this year and doubled from 2017 to 2019, according to research released Wednesday.
In 2019, one in four 12th grade students said they vaped within the previous 30 days, as well as one in five students in 10th grade and one in 11 in eighth, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine says.
There were also significant increases from 2018 to 2019 in the numbers of students who said they had vaped during the previous 12 months and who had ever vaped.
"Current efforts by the vaping industry, government agencies, and schools have thus far proved insufficient to stop the rapid spread of nicotine vaping among adolescents," researchers wrote. "Of particular concern are the accompanying increases in the proportions of youth who are physically addicted to nicotine, an addiction that is very difficult to overcome once established."
Growing concern for kids
Hundreds of e-cigarette users in the US have been sickened with mysterious vaping-related lung illnesses, many of them young people. Investigators haven't yet identified the cause of the illnesses.
The National Institutes of Health say the annual results of the Monitoring the Future Survey were released early this year to notify public health officials working to curb vaping among teens.
"With 25% of 12th graders, 20% of 10th graders and 9% of eighth graders now vaping nicotine within the past month, the use of these devices has become a public health crisis," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which funds the survey. "These products introduce the highly addictive chemical nicotine to these young people and their developing brains, and I fear we are only beginning to learn the possible health risks and outcomes for youth."
Seven deaths so far
This week, a California man became the seventh person to die from a vaping-related illness in the US.
Vaping-related illness recently killed another person in California, plus one person each in Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Oregon, officials have reported.
In light of the lung injury outbreaks, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention activated its Emergency Operations Center, the agency announced. Researchers are now looking into 280 cases of lung illness associated with the use of e-cigarettes in 36 states and the US Virgin Island, they have said.