Happening Today: Education Week Leadership Symposium. Learn more and register.
School & District Management

For 8 in 10 Teens, Vaping Is Part of Everyday Life, Poll Finds

By Arianna Prothero & Alyson Klein — November 04, 2019 3 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE

For the vast majority of teenagers, vaping is a part of their daily lives. Even if they don’t use electronic cigarettes, they’re being inundated with images of vaping—either from seeing their peers doing it or seeing posts about it on social media.

That’s according to a new poll by Common Sense Media, a San Francisco based nonprofit that studies the impact of technology on children and young people. The poll comes as teen e-cigarette use has ballooned, and a slew of vaping-related deaths has sent schools and policymakers scrambling to contain a growing public health epidemic.

While e-cigarettes are generally seen as safer for adults than smoking traditional cigarettes, and have been promoted as a healthier alternative for already-addicted adult smokers, the sharp rise in vaping among teens has health experts worried.

Nicotine has long-term effects on young, developing brains, and the drug is much more concentrated in e-cigarettes than in regular cigarettes. E-cigs also contain toxic chemicals and metals.

Thirty percent of teens who start vaping progress to traditional cigarettes within six months, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

High Exposure

This latest poll from Common Sense illustrates how pervasive vaping has become in schools and social media sites popular with teens, such as Instagram and Snapchat.

Seventy-eight percent of teens said that vaping is popular among their peers where they live, and just over a third said they see classmates vaping in school several times a week, if not daily. More than half of teens reported that they see vaping at their school on a monthly basis.

Meanwhile, almost 60 percent of teens said that they frequently encounter a social media post that either mentions or shows vaping.

That’s especially true for teens on Instagram or Snapchat. Around 75 percent of teens that use those social media platforms report seeing posts that include vaping.

Peers and social media are also the most common sources for teens’ first introduction to vaping.

A plurality of teens—44 percent—say they first heard about vaping from someone they know. Meanwhile nearly a quarter of teens say they learned about vaping on social media.

If there’s one bit of silver lining, it’s that a sizable majority of teens said that the vaping-related ads they have seen were about the risks of vaping.

It appears from this survey that young people’s understanding of the potential harms of vaping may be evolving. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over half of teens believe their e-cigarettes contain just flavoring.

But this recent Common Sense survey found that 52 percent think vaping is “about as harmful as smoking.” Thirty-one percent of teens said it’s more harmful and 17 percent said it’s less harmful. How much exposure teens had to online messages on the harmful affects of vaping appeared to affect their beliefs.

Taking Action

These survey results come as school leaders and policymakers are starting to take more muscular action against teen vaping.

A growing number of school districts have turned to the courts to do that. The Los Angeles Unified School District is the latest district to announce that it is suing one of the most popular e-cigarette manufacturers among teens, JUUL. The district claims that JUUL marketed e-cigarettes to teens and that the fast rise in vaping is harming students and costing the district money as it tries to contain the health crisis.

In recent months, there have been reports of hundreds of cases of lung-related illnesses associated with vaping—many of those cases have involved young people—and nearly three dozen deaths.

State and federal policymakers have also been taking action. Several states passed laws to curb teen vaping in 2019, according to the Education Commission of the States.

And the Trump administration also recently moved to tamp down on the sales of flavored e-cigarette products. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is looking into banning the sale of flavored vaping products until they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Related Video

JUULs are easy to hide, have a flavored smell, and don’t emit much vapor. So how is a teacher to know if a student is JUULing, or vaping, in class?

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Here to Stay – Pandemic Lessons for EdTech in Future Development
What technology is needed in a post pandemic district? Learn how changes in education will impact development of new technologies.
Content provided by AWS

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Wanted: Superintendents to Lead Districts Through the End of a Pandemic
Former superintendents say there are signs when it's time to move on. Their replacements are more likely to be greenhorns, experts say.
4 min read
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner speaks at a news conference at the school district headquarters in Los Angeles on March 13, 2020. Beutner will step down as superintendent after his contract ends in June, he announced Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
Austin Beutner, the superintendent of Los Angeles Unified, will step down after his contract ends in June.
Damian Dovarganes/AP
School & District Management Has COVID-19 Led to a Mass Exodus of Superintendents?
This year has been exhausting for superintendents. Some experts say they're seeing an unusually high number of resignations this spring.
5 min read
Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Janice K. Jackson, right, speaks on Feb. 11, 2021, during a news conference at the William H. Brown Elementary School in Chicago. In-person learning for students in pre-k and cluster programs began Thursday, since the district's agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union was reached.
Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Janice K. Jackson, right, announced earlier this week that she would depart the school system. Jackson, who assumed the superintendency in 2018, has worked for more than 20 years in CPS.
Shafkat Anowar
School & District Management Most Schools Offer at Least Some In-Person Classes, According to Feds' Latest Count
A majority of 4th and 8th graders had at least some in-person schooling by March, but inequities persisted.
3 min read
Image shows empty desks in a classroom.
Chris Ryan/OJO Images
School & District Management Opinion Education Researchers Should Think More About Educators: Notes From AERA
Steve Rees, founder of School Wise Press, posits AERA reflects a community of researchers too focused on what they find interesting.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty