'Incredibly Concerning' And Growing Number Of US Teens Are Vaping, Says Wash U Researcher | St. Louis Public Radio

'Incredibly Concerning' And Growing Number Of US Teens Are Vaping, Says Wash U Researcher

Feb 19, 2019

A recent study of American teenagers showed a big jump in nicotine vaping among young people in 2018. Even as many steer clear of other substance-related activities such as binge drinking and drug use, the number of teens who are vaping has more than doubled since 2017.

“The data shows that one in five middle schoolers are using these products and one in three high school [students] are using these products, so those are incredibly concerning numbers,” Dr. Patricia Cavazos-Rehg said during Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Patricia Cavazos-Rehg is an associate professor in the Washington University School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry.
Credit Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Cavazos-Rehg, who is an associate professor in the Washington University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, told host Don Marsh there’s a need for more education about vaping – and its risks – among both teens and their caregivers.

“What we’re finding is that perhaps vaping is healthier than regular cigarettes, but it’s by no means healthy – it is not a healthy behavior,” she said. “Most vapes – or e-cigarettes – contain nicotine, [which] is highly addictive.”

Not only are teens finding ways to access Juul vaping devices and other popular items, “they’re not having conversations with important people that could potentially tell them how hazardous these products actually are,” Cavazos-Rehg said.

And in addition to potentially impacting brain development and increasing risks associated with addiction, other hazards remain unknown at this point.

“It’s kind of a mystery what the long-term health effects are, and that is concerning, because we could certainly find out that lungs are impacted negatively by the use of these products,” Cavazos-Rehg added.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Alex HeuerEvie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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