RESPIRATORY HEALTH

E-cigarette use falls among teens

 (REUTERS/Christian Hartmann)

E-cigarette use among teens dropped in 2016, reversing an upward trend that had prompted the U.S. Surgeon General to recommend increased regulation and taxation.

Among high-school seniors, 12% this year said they had used e-cigarettes in the past month compared with 16% in 2015, according to the National Institutes of Health’s annual Monitoring the Future survey.

E-cigarettes and marijuana are both more popular among teens than regular cigarettes, whose use among teens has been declining for more than two decades, according to the survey. E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat nicotine-laced liquid into a vapor.

Among high-school seniors, 23% said they had used marijuana in the past month, and 11% said they had smoked conventional cigarettes. Some 13% of high-school seniors said they had used tobacco with a hookah in the past year, down from 23% in 2014, the peak since the survey began measuring hookah use in 2010.

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Nora Volkow, director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, said she was encouraged by the continued long-term decline in teen use of tobacco and marijuana, and the recent drop in e-cigarette use.

“At the same time, we shouldn’t be complacent,” she said. “One of the questions that we have is the extent to which exposure to these electronic cigarettes could make kids more vulnerable for going back into combustible tobacco.”

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