Teens say they vape for flavor, not nicotine

(Credit: vaping360/Flickr)

Flavor, not nicotine, entices teenagers to vape, a new study of nearly 15,000 young people in the US suggests.

Vaporizers are battery-powered devices with a heating element. They produce an aerosol, also known as a vapor or mist, that users inhale. The aerosol may contain nicotine, although the specific contents of the vapor are proprietary and are not regulated. The liquid that is vaporized comes in hundreds of flavors.

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When asked what they vaped, 59-62 percent of youth in 8th, 10th, and 12-grade said “just flavoring.” The answer was more common than all others combined.

Vaping nicotine came in a distant second place at 20 percent to 22 percent among 10th- and 12th-grade students and 13 percent among 8th-graders.

Vaping marijuana was reported by 6-7 percent of students in all grades, and the remainder either did not know what they had last vaped (6 percent, 7 percent, and 14 percent in grades 12, 10, and 8, respectively) or had vaped some other substance (1 percent or less in each grade).

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Health and medical organizations may need to adjust their intervention strategies with these findings in mind, says Richard Miech of the University of Michigan and lead author of the study in the journal Tobacco Control.

“Messages aimed at curbing vaporizer and e-cigarette use among youth may not be successful if these messages center around the dangers of nicotine, given that most youth who vape do not believe they are using nicotine.”

Efforts to ban the sale of vaporizers and e-cigarettes to youth on the grounds that these devices always intrinsically deliver harmful substances may not be supported by scientific studies. Other rationales to ban sales may be more effective.

Further, the widely used technical term “ENDS,” which stands for Electronic Nicotine Delivery System, may be inappropriate to describe e-cigarettes and other vaporizer devices among adolescents if most youth use them for other substances.

Source: University of Michigan