Department of Health: Number of high schoolers who vape doubles in two years

Just how common is vaping among high school students? According to a survey conducted by the state Department of Health (DPH) between March and June of 2017, as many as one in seven high schoolers said that they currently use a vape — double the number reported in 2015.

The survey also revealed that high school seniors were twice as likely to vape as students entering high school in 2017. While one-in-ten freshmen said they vape, more than one-in-five seniors said they currently use a vape.

According to DPH, fruit, “followed by mint or menthol” are the most popular flavors of pods or “e-liquids” among students.


“More than half used their devices for other substances, such as marijuana, THC or hash oil, or THC wax,” DPH said in a press release.

Many vapes currently on the market allow the user to refill them with e-liquid, or use a standardized cartridge of liquid. That enables users to vape oils containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

The liquid is typically a mixture of flavoring, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and other ingredients, according to the FDA. The liquid is then heated into a vapor with an electronic heating element contained within the device. Many — including all of the pods produced for the popular Juul brand of vapes — contain liquid nicotine.

“These results are especially troubling because youth are generally unaware of the presence and level of nicotine in their devices and can become addicted with only a few puffs,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino.


The DPH said that one Juul pod contains about as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, with “many teens” reporting that they go through one pod per day. The pods typically retail for $16 for a pack of four.

“These devices are shaped like a USB drive and are easily concealed, and teachers have reported use in the classroom while class is in session,” the DPH said in its release.

Juul Labs website now prominently displays a link to learn about the company’s “youth prevention efforts.” The models the company uses on its webpage are members of the “Juul community,” former smokers who switched to Juul vapes.

According the DPH, overall smoking rates among teens continue to decline, even as the number of students who vape increases.

“Based on misleading claims about e-cigarettes, many teens believe they are trying a ‘safe’ product,” Rino said.

“Preventing the initiation of tobacco use altogether, educating children and young adults on the dangers of [vaping], and reducing exposure to secondhand smoke and aerosol are all very important for protecting children’s health.”