Tobacco products are thought to be safer than illicit substances, but they still pose extreme risks to those who use them. These products contain nicotine, which is an extremely addictive substance that makes it difficult for users to quit once they’ve started. Long-term use is detrimental to one’s health and the earlier someone starts using, the worse it will be for their well-being.
Consequently, it can be extremely dangerous for an adolescent to start using tobacco products, as it can set them up for a life of addiction. Unfortunately, the use of electronic cigarettes has grown in popularity and is currently the most popular way for young people to use tobacco. These come in various forms, such as e-cigarettes, vapes, vape pens, and more, and are much more dangerous than they appear.
With this in mind, we decided to dig deeper to find out how youth e-cigarette usage varies across the U.S. We looked at the rate of use in each state, as well as the correlation between e-cigarette use and youth illicit drug use. Read on for all of our findings, as well as our study methodology.
Rate of Youth E-Cigarette Use in Each State
First, we found the rate of youth e-cigarette use in each U.S. state. And while the national rate of use is 13.2%, the graphic above shows that there is significant variance across states. The states with the highest rates are Wyoming (29.6%), Colorado (26.2%), Hawaii (25.5%). The states with the lowest rates are Utah (7.6%), Ohio (8.6%), and Iowa (9.0%).
Correlation Between Youth E-Cigarette Use and Youth Illicit Drug Use
Next, we looked at how youth vaping correlates with youth illicit drug use (including marijuana). By mapping out the rates for each state, we found a correlation of 0.2209, which suggests a moderate link between these two rates of use. In other words, adolescents are more likely to use illicit drugs (including marijuana) if they live in an area with a relatively higher rate of e-cigarette use.
Correlation Between Youth E-Cigarette Use and Youth Illicit Drug Use (Non-Marijuana)
Finally, we ran the same calculation but focused on youth illicit drug use, excluding marijuana. We found an even stronger correlation in this case (0.3872), which suggests that young adults who vape are particularly at risk of developing a more serious addiction. This could include cocaine, heroin, or other substances that have life-altering consequences.
Even if e-cigarettes and vape pens seem harmless, they pose serious risks to those who use them. Adolescents are already faced with numerous social pressures, so it’s easy for them to fall prey to an addiction like this. Unfortunately, this can have much larger consequences down the line, such as other types of dangerous drug use.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, learn more about how we can help.
We used 2017 data from the Centers for Disease Control to determine the percentage of high school-aged youth who currently use electronic cigarette devices. We then compared this to the rate of youth illicit drug use, as well as the rate of youth non-marijuana illicit drug use, in each state to calculate the correlation (variable “r” ranging from -1 to 1). The following states did not have 2017 data available for youth e-cigarette use, so we used data from previous years in place of that: Alabama (2015), Indiana (2015), Mississippi (2015), New Jersey (2016), Ohio (2013), South Dakota (2015), Wyoming (2015). For states that didn’t have data from the federal database, we used individual state reports that measured the same data.
- 2017 CDC Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System
- State Health Organizations
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