Teenage vaping continues to increase, and some use the devices to vape marijuana.
More than 20 percent of U.S. high school seniors vape marijuana; in Talbot County, that percentage is lower, at about 18%. Overall, about 14% of all Talbot County high school students surveyed have vaped marijuana, according to the latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey. While vaping nicotine is still more popular among teens, vaping marijuana is on the rise.
Between 2018 and 2019, vaping nicotine and marijuana among teens more than doubled across the country, according to most recent Monitoring the Future study. This increase marked the largest single-year increase ever observed in the 45 years of the study. For all secondary students the increase translates into at least one million additional marijuana vapers in 2019 compared with 2018.
The annual study surveys national drug use among teens and is sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institutes of Health. The 2019 survey also found that use of marijuana in any form among 19-22 year olds is at its highest in four decades.
Vaping involves the use of an electronic cigarette, or e-cig, that heats a liquid that’s inhaled. Increasingly, teens use liquid that includes THC, the chemical that gives cannabis its high.
This trend of increased marijuana vaping in teens comes along with a spate of vaping-related lung illnesses. These illnesses peaked in September 2019, with more than 2,666 hospitalizations by January 2020. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average age for people hospitalized with these lung illnesses was 24. Most of the patients had used products that contained THC.
By October 2019 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration had issued a warning asking people to stop vaping THC as the agency, along with the CDC, investigated the lung illnesses and associated deaths. Their research shows a strong link between the outbreak and vaping THC, along with Vitamin E acetate.
The lung illness outbreak prompted a number of state and federal restrictions on nicotine e-cigs, and some temporary bans on flavored sales. Early this year the FDA announced a ban on mint and fruit flavored vaping products. That ban, however, doesn’t apply to tank-based flavored products or to disposable vapes.
More recently, shops and manufacturers had until a federal deadline of Sept. 9 to file applications to sell flavored products. Once an application is sent to the FDA, a maker has a year to sell unless the FDA takes action. The applications include safety testing, science reviews, marketing plans and a youth action prevention plan for each flavor.
And just this month, health officials are warning that young adults who vape are at greater risk of severe COVID-19 infection. Teens and young people who want to quit vaping can text DITCHVAPE to 88709 and get immediate help.
Talbot Goes Purple is an educational and awareness prevention program that empowers our youth and our community to “Go Purple” as a sign of taking a stand against substance abuse. The purpose of the program is to promote the “new conversation” – one that includes prescription drugs, alcohol, marijuana and e-cigarettes. TGP focuses on educating students about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, and works toward preventing kids from beginning to use these substances in the first place.
An initiative from the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office and Tidewater Rotary, in partnership with Talbot County Public Schools, Saints Peter & Paul School and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, Talbot Goes Purple empowers our youth and our community to “Go Purple” as a sign of taking a stand against substance abuse.