“An emerging body of research indicates that vaping is becoming an increasingly popular trend among adolescents and young adults,” they write. With a tinge of sadness, they note that despite the wealth of vaping research that has conducted, nobody has considered a link to “drug use and delinquency.”
They sought to correct this as the group believed that vaping “may be related to other forms of deviant and delinquent behaviour”, because “a large number of studies link substance use with aggressive and delinquent behaviour”.
The study’s press release from the University of Texas predictably talks about the teen “epidemic”. “Using a nationally representative sample of 8th and 10th graders in 2017,” it continues, “Jackson found that adolescents who vape are at an elevated risk of engaging in criminal activities such as violence and property theft. He also found that teens who vape marijuana are at a significantly higher risk of violent and property offenses than youth who ingest marijuana through traditional means.”
The team report that their comprehensive research highlighted a suggestion “that youth who vape more frequently may be more likely to vape psychoactive substances while youth who vape flavour-only may represent more casual users”.
It goes beyond children, as far as the fantastic four are concerned, they also discovered it covers behaviours in adult populations: “Emergent evidence suggests that vaping is associated with other risky activities such as conventional cigarette smoking, risky drinking, and illicit drug use.”
They justify the study by saying: “At present, criminologists have overlooked the existing trend of vaping, particularly among adolescents – among whom delinquency is already quite prevalent. Understanding the connections between vaping and delinquency in the modern era could prove useful when developing delinquency prevention and intervention efforts. In addition, the findings of this study may point to early adolescent vaping as a novel diagnostic tool to identify youth who are at-risk of diverse forms of delinquent behaviour.”
They concluded that vaping is an indicator for delinquent behaviour, falling into four categories:
- violent delinquency including fighting at school, engaging in a gang fight, causing injury to another or carrying a weapon to school
- property delinquency such as stealing an item or damaging school property
- "Other" types of delinquency such as trespassing or running away from home
- Some combination of the behaviours mentioned above
Jackson argues argues that youth who vape illicit substances such as marijuana may easily go unnoticed and/or unchallenged due to the ambiguity surrounding the substance they are vaping and the ease of concealability of vaping devices, which can look like a flash drive.
“The findings suggest that there may be something criminogenic about vaping among adolescents, but that the strength of the relationship between vaping and delinquency is contingent on what is being vaped, with marijuana vaping being most heavily correlated with delinquency.”
"Our hope is that this research will lead to the recognition among policymakers, practitioners, and parents that the growing trend of adolescent vaping is not simply ‘unhealthy’ - or worse, an innocuous pastime - but that it may in fact be a red flag or an early marker of risk pertaining to violence, property offending, and other acts of misconduct."
- “It's all the rage! Exploring the nuances in the link between vaping and adolescent delinquency” by Jackson, Boccio, Leal, and Vaughn – [link]