Monday, December 19, 2022

2022 High School Seniors: Little Change in Tobacco Use, But Significant Increases in Current Marijuana Vaping & Flavored Alcohol Consumption


As my readers know, I have been following the results of the annual Monitoring the Future Survey for many years, focusing on alcohol, marijuana and tobacco use among high school seniors.  Just-released 2022 MTF results (here) indicate that past 30-day (i.e., current) use of these products was fairly stable from the prior year (as seen in chart at left), with the exception of vaping marijuana, which significantly increased.    

While current smoking bottomed out at 4%, past-month alcohol drinking remained at the top of this list at 28%, with 17% having been drunk.  Marijuana use comes in at 20%, with 15% of seniors vaping that substance in the past 30 days. 

Two other MTF topics not in my chart deserve attention: JUUL and flavored alcohol.  MTF reported current JUUL use for the first time in 2019, noting that it was used by 21% of high school seniors.  By 2021, the rate was 6.8%.  This year, MTF dropped JUUL from the survey, which is strange because they kept many other drugs with less than 1% current use.  The reason may be that the sharp decline in JUUL use conflicted with the MTF narrative, highlighted in this year’s press release header: “Nicotine vaping now one of the top forms of substance use among teens.” 

Current drinking of flavored alcohol was another fascinating finding; it significantly increased from 15% in 2021 to 21% this year, identical to vaping nicotine and eclipsing vaping flavors (8.3%).  The FDA Tobacco Center supports the banning all flavored vapes, even in the absence of a scientific rationale.  These products are being banned in jurisdictions across the country.  While it’s hard to conceive a scenario in which flavored alcohol comes under the same attack, one shouldn’t underestimate the power of American prohibitionist thinking. 



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