For my first post, given our mission at this site, I have decided it makes the most sense to start out by talking about vaping trends against school-age children and teens. Admittedly here, real time statistics are very difficult to nail down. Scientific studies are expensive and take a long time, so in many instances we are unfortunately stuck relying on a mix of data from the past two years. However, I do feel we can extrapolate something useful by combining what we know so far, and judging by actions that our schools and other institutions are taking now to pave a useful path going forward.
Some personal info to start, just to keep me honest and just so you know I have skin in the game. I was a smoker from roughly 1999-2007. I started the summer after my senior year in high school. I was hanging with a couple of girls, one of whom I had a huge crush on; and well… I was also curious. Other kids smoked when I was in high school, but I never paid attention. But here I was, hanging with two pretty girls, and I wanted in. I asked to bum a cig, they provided, it was as easy as that. No peer pressure, I just wanted to fit in. It was just regular tobacco back then. Vaping did not come along until long after. By that time, I had already quit cigarettes on my own, so vaping was never a thing for me. I hung out in web forums, where smokers posted threads where they tried to encourage each other on ways to use vaping to ween off cigarettes. That was how it was all originally marketed, you see: “Our product can not only help you quit, but it’s all just water vaper! Totally safe!” Turns out that wasn’t true. But we’ll explore that.
Anyway, my point is that the product may have changed, but the game hasn’t. Kids may not be trying to buy their first pack of Marlboro Reds from a vending machine like I did, but they’re still just trying to fit in. In addition, unlike in my day when the internet was still in its infancy, kids have a wider range of access to resources and black market offerings kids of my generation never even dreamed of.
According to Drugwatch (CDC 2019), the top five states for teen vaping are as follows:
And consider this graphic from MPOWER:
In addition, MPOWER’s website states that 27% of high schoolers vape, and 8% of middle schoolers admit to vaping. For the record, MPOWER cites among its sources the FDA, the CDC, and the Truth Initiative.
Going forward, I want to get deeper into the harms of vaping. I also want to touch on whether vaping can exacerbate chances of contracting COVID, as well as whether it can worsen symptoms. And, because we’re not all doom and gloom here, I want to get into whether vaping is decreasing, and what can be done to accelerate that trend.