Vaping is increasing among younger people — but not so for older adults, study says

Vaping, often described as an “epidemic” in middle and high schools, was not significantly different among adults in the United States in 2014 vs. 2018, according to survey results published Monday.

However, those numbers had been declining from 2014 to 2017, preceding an uptick largely attributable to the increasing popularity of vaping among 18- to 24-year-olds. In that age group, prevalence of e-cigarette use rose from 5.2% in 2017 to 7.6% in 2018.

“We found that the decline in current e-cigarette use among adults continued from 2014 to 2017 but was reversed between 2017 and 2018,” the authors explained in the article, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. “A significant increase between 2017 and 2018 occurred among young adults, but no such increase occurred in middle-aged or older adults.”

Increases in vaping prevalence from 2017 to 2018 were also observed among men, individuals who identified as non-Hispanic Asian, those with family incomes at least four times higher than poverty level, and former cigarette smokers.

The data came from an annual survey, the National Health Interview Survey, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, the prevalence of vaping among youth has continued to skyrocket, according to other surveys of middle and high school students.

In September, the FDA revealed that 27.5% of high school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2019 — up from 20.8% in 2018 and 11.7% in 2017. A separate survey whose results were released last month also showed that the rates of 8th, 10th and 12th graders who use e-cigarettes doubled from 2017 to 2019.

“The trends in young adults are similar to the previously reported trends in current e-cigarette use among US middle and high school students in 2017 and 2018,” the authors of the newly published article wrote.

“These findings are of public health concern, because nicotine exposure can harm the developing brain, and e-cigarette use may lead to a transition to subsequent cigarette smoking.”