Last Updated: January 2020
Authored by the Tobacco Control Program
To aid monitoring use of e-cigarettes and electronic vapor products, several questions were added in 2015 to Vermont’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. The e-vapor products asked about included e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipes and e-hookahs, vape pipes, vaping pens and popular brands like JUUL. While there had been a decrease reported from 2015 to 2017, there was a sharp increase from 12% to 26% from 2017 to 2019. This is attributed to the rise in market share of JUUL which is easy to use and conceal including in school environments. Vermont's vaping rates are similar to the national rate of 27% (National Youth Tobacco Survey).
In addition to 30-day use increasing is the frequency of use. 57% of youth who reported using an electronic vaping product in the past 30 days indicated using 10 or more days a month. More than three in ten high school youth indicated using every day. Lifetime use has also been increasing every survey: 30% in 2015, 34% in 2017 with a dramatic increase to 50% in 2019.
Also, electronic vapor product use increases with each grade level. For present use, 17% of 9th grade students reported vaping and increased to 34% in 12th grade. For lifetime use, the rates are substantially higher. In 9th grade the reported use was 37% and increased to 58% for ever tried an e-vapor product. White, non Hispanic students and LGBT students are significantly more likely to report ever vaping. Male youth continue to report significantly higher rates of current and lifetime use than their female counterparts.
Concerning flavors, 27% of high school students have ever tried flavored tobacco products including vanilla, cloves, alcohol, mint, menthol among others. Similar to current use, lifetime use of flavored tobacco products increases with each grade.
E-vapor products are increasingly popular among youth given their wide array of flavors (mint, candy, fruit), design and accessibility through social connections. Vaping among youth is shown to increase risk of smoking in the future. While e-vapor products are often promoted as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, which may be the case for adults, the Surgeon General cautions youth, young adults, those who are pregnant and non tobacco users not to vape. Although e-vapor products do not produce tobacco smoke, they still contain highly addictive nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals. Testing of some e-cigarette products found the vapor to contain known carcinogens and toxic chemicals (such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde), as well as potentially toxic metal nanoparticles from the vaporizing mechanism. The health consequences of repeated exposure to these chemicals are not yet clear (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016)