A study published in JAMA Network Open found an increase in the rate of teens who vape reporting that they reach for an e-cigarette as soon as they wake up — which researchers used to measure the intensity of nicotine addiction. From 2014–2017, 1% of study participants said they vaped within 5 minutes of waking in the morning. But by 2021, more than 10% said they did.
“It is encouraging that the prevalence of e-cigarette use has declined among U.S. adolescents from 2019 to 2021. However, the addiction and intensity of use trends reported in this study are concerning, especially since tobacco use is typically established during adolescence,” Merianos, who is also a faculty researcher at the University of Cincinnati, told CNN.
The researchers who conducted the study guessed that the increase in intensity in e-cigarette use could have been a sign of people looking for ways to deal with stress during the pandemic.
Between 2014 and 2021, researchers surveyed U.S. teens on the first tobacco product used, the age when tobacco use started, frequency of use, and level of nicotine addiction. During that period, teens started using tobacco at a younger age, and, by 2019, more e-cigarette users were using their first tobacco product of the day within 5 minutes of waking than for cigarettes and all other products combined.
According to the study, the changes might reflect the higher levels of nicotine in e-cigarettes compared to other tobacco products. E-cigarettes entered the U.S. market around 2007, and since 2014, when the study started, they have been the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youth.
“The increasing intensity of use of modern e-cigarettes highlights the clinical need to address youth addiction to these new high-nicotine products over the course of many clinical encounters. In addition, stronger regulation, including comprehensive bans on the sale of flavored tobacco products, should be implemented,” the researchers wrote.