IU survey finds use of vape products up among Indiana teens

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Nearly 30 percent of 12th-graders in Indiana report using electronic vapor products in the last month, according to the 28th annual Indiana Youth Survey. This is an increase of 45 percent over 2017 numbers.

The survey — administered in early 2018 by the Institute for Research on Addictive Behavior, part of the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington — reports that the rate of electronic vapor product use in the past 30 days for all students in seventh through 12th grade was 16.9 percent.

“We added questions about electronic vapor products to the survey in 2015 after an alarming and rapid increase in the number of youth using vapor products and e-cigarettes,” said Ruth Gassman, executive director of the Institute for Research on Addictive Behavior. “Though we saw a decline last year, we were still concerned about the numbers of youth using vapor products. With this year’s survey results, we confirm that our concern is well-founded and the use of these products among teens continues to be a public health issue.”

The Indiana Youth Survey is administered to nearly 120,000 students in Grade 6 to 12 in 407 Indiana schools. Students are asked about their use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, their gambling behaviors, and risk and protective factors that may increase the likelihood of substance abuse.

In addition to electronic vapor products, the survey found 5.7 percent of students in seventh through 12th grade used cigarettes in the past 30 days, 3 percent used smokeless tobacco, 2.9 percent smoked cigars and 2.1 percent smoked a pipe.

For the first time this year, the survey questioned students about their perception of drug and alcohol use among their peers. Students were asked how many times in the past 30 days they thought their peers had used alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, prescription painkillers, prescription stimulants or prescription sedatives.

“We found that students greatly overestimate their peers’ use of drugs and alcohol,” Gassman said. “For example, students thought more than 45 percent of their peers were using prescription painkillers, when the actual reported use is just 1.6 percent. Almost 60 percent of students believed their peers were smoking cigarettes, when only 5.6 percent of students reported cigarette smoking in the past 30 days.”

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