Thursday, August 19, 2021

Most Adolescents Have Tried or Want to Quit Vaping, Study Reports

More than half of adolescents who vape said that they intend to quit and about two-thirds had tried to quit during the past year, according to a study of middle and high school students published online in Pediatrics. These numbers reflect a significant increase in the intention and number of attempts to quit compared with the results of a similar survey of adolescents in 2017. That survey found that 44% of the respondents had thought seriously about quitting and 25% had tried.

The study in Pediatrics also revealed that adolescents’ perceived harm from vaping is strongly associated with their intention to quit and attempts to quit in the past year.

“[I]t is alarming that 44.5% of current e-cigarette users still perceived e-cigarette use as no harm or little harm, which could dampen the motivation for vaping cessation,” wrote author Hongying Dai, Ph.D., of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health.

Dai analyzed the responses from 1,660 students in grades 6 through 12 who participated in the National Youth Tobacco Survey in 2020 and had reported using e-cigarettes one or more times in the past month. That survey estimated that 20% of high school students and 5% of middle school students were current e-cigarette users. Dai was interested in what factors influenced students’ intentions to quit vaping and past-year quit attempts.

Dai found that more than half of students perceived e-cigarette use to be harmful (56%). These students were more than twice as likely to have intended to quit vaping within the year than those who did not perceive vaping as harmful. Among students who attempted to quit e-cigarettes in the past year, they averaged 5.3 attempts. The number of vaping quit attempts was lower in females than in males.

Other results include the following:

  • The type of e-cigarette device used by students had an impact on their intent to quit vaping. Adolescents using a “modifiable” system that allows users to add fruit or candy flavors and customize e-cigarettes for more efficient delivery of nicotine were 60% less likely to intend to quit, compared with those using cartridge-based or disposable e-cigarettes.
  • Four in 10 students reported using e-cigarettes as well other tobacco products. These students were 30% less likely to have attempted to quit vaping during the past year than those using solely e-cigarettes.
  • Students’ reasons for using e-cigarettes were also a factor in their intent to quit vaping. Students who reported using e-cigarettes due to curiosity or because a friend had used them were more likely to intend to quit, compared with those who used them to conceal their smoking at home or school.
  • Students who said they had seen or heard about the FDA’s campaign to educate youth about vaping risks, “The Real Cost,” had a higher intention to quit vaping (50% more likely) than those who hadn’t.

“These findings can inform the development of evidence-based vaping cessation interventions for clinicians and public health researchers,” Dai wrote in an email to Psychiatric News. “Clinicians should emphasize the adverse health outcomes of vaping and deliver the message that e-cigarettes, just like cigarettes, will increase the risks of nicotine addiction, respiratory injury, cardiovascular illnesses, and other tobacco-related diseases.”

For more information, see the Psychiatric News article “FDA Bans Some Flavored E-Cigarettes, but Advocates Say Policy Falls Short.”

(Image: iStock/Bulat Silvia)


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.