Vaping News

The 26th Indiana Youth Survey

Despite constituting part of just two questions, vaping takes the lead in the headline delivering the results.

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Indiana University conduct a youth survey on an annual basis. Staff at the School of Public Health’s Prevention Resource Centre distribute multiple choice forms to schools and then analyse the responses. It is quite striking that, although there are only two questions mentioning electronic cigarettes, vaping is singled out in the headline and lead paragraph by the University.

The survey, the latest since 1993, “shows lower levels of e-cigarette use”. This could be a good or a bad thing depending on your personal take. For Indiana, this is still something for concern for the wellbeing of 24,761 students from 113 schools.

Ruth Gassman, Indiana Prevention Resource Centre executive director, said: “We are concerned by the numbers of youth using electronic vapour products, as well as traditional tobacco products, such as cigarettes. All tobacco or nicotine-based products have health risks.”

The report produces only two findings related to vaping, but its authors see fit to raise them at the outset:

  • Indiana 12th-graders reported using electronic cigarettes at a rate of 20.9 percent, which is greater than the national rate of 16.2. The same students used tobacco cigarettes at a rate of 14.1 percent, compared to 11.4 percent of seniors surveyed nationally. Tobacco use in general decreased for all students except ninth-graders.
  • Electronic cigarettes or vape pens were the most popular nicotine-containing substance used by youth in the month before the survey was administered. This is the second year the survey has asked about use of electronic vapour products.

Neither Gassman nor the report detail why there needs to be concern. If anything, the data appears to indicate a higher age for beginning to vape compared to the use of tobacco products – which would lead to two conclusions: that vaping is not acting as a gateway and that it is being sought out by current smokers.

It’s not possible to say this with any authority given the very blunt nature of the survey. It doesn’t drill down into the use of electronic cigarettes and, in many sections, considers them to be the same as traditional tobacco products.

“Prescription drug use continues to be a serious health problem among adults, with Indiana’s opioid use problem making national headlines,” they write. “But most Indiana youth are not abusing prescription drugs.” Again, it is curious that they do not point out most Indiana youth aren’t using nicotine or vaping products – but that would fit into what appears to be a clear agenda.

It is hard to see how this report can be used for any serious policy making decisions. As well as being very shallow in its questions related to e-Cigs, being a self-administered survey means it is very easy for students to misreport usage. The rates of electronic cigarette use were also compiled into an ‘ever-used’ figure, which means nothing. This said, no doubt we’ll be reading reference to it in an anti-vaping article soon.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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