Study of teen drug use shows largest ever recorded increase in adolescent vaping

ByKatie Utehs via KGO logo
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
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The number of teens using e-cigarettes or vaping has increased at an alarming rate say local tobacco control experts.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The number of teens using e-cigarettes or vaping has increased at an alarming rate say local tobacco control experts. A new study says increases in adolescent vaping were the largest ever recorded.

E-cigarettes, or vaping, is often billed as an alternative to cigarettes. Dr. Stanton Glantz, a Professor of Medicine and Director of UCSF's Center for Tobacco Control and Research says don't be fooled.

RELATED: FDA seizes documents at San Francisco headquarters of America's largest e-cigarette seller JUUL

"The huge scam of e-cigarettes is they're promoted as way to quit, but they actually make it harder," said Dr. Glantz.


He says products like San Francisco based JUUL are incredibly addictive and particularly appealing to teens. JUUL's sleek design similar to a USB drive make it easy to hide. Its technology makes the smell of second-hand smoke less noticeable.

"By putting acid into the liquid they make it easier to inhale the nicotine so they can deliver a harder hit," said Glantz.

New research out of the University of Michigan on teenage drug trends says the percentage of 12th graders who reported vaping nicotine in the past 30 days has nearly doubled.

You can read the full study here.

"This is a very big problem because kid's brains are still developing and nicotine literally re-wires their brains in ways that are permanent," said Glantz.

JUUL declined an on camera interview but told ABC 7 they've made steps to avoid marketing to teens. In November the company suspended its Facebook and Instagram accounts.

RELATED: Student warns about 'Juuling' trend in eye-opening video

JUUL released a statement saying:

"JUUL Labs is committed to preventing youth from initiating on nicotine. As we said before, our intent was never to have youth use JUUL products. But intent is not enough, we must act to solve this problem which is why we are implementing the JUUL Labs Action Plan to address underage use of JUUL products. We stopped the distribution of certain flavored JUULpods to retail stores as of November 17, 2018, strengthened the age verification of our Web site, eliminated our Facebook and Instagram accounts and are developing new technology to further limit youth access.

We are committed to working with FDA, state Attorneys General, local municipalities, and community organizations as a transparent and responsible partner in this effort."

Dr. Glantz says San Francisco is leading the way in combating teen vaping. The Board of Supervisors voted to ban the sale of flavored tobacco. The city will start issuing citations at the first of the year.

RELATED: SF Students say JUUL vaporizer easy to use at school

"A lot of Juul's and the other e-cigarettes are sold on the internet and really that should be prohibited too," said Glantz.

Just last week, according to the Wall Street Journal, Juul's chief executive told employees they could no longer vape inside the company's offices.