Trends Show Youth Who Vape Are More Addicted

Teens gather outside at a park

Youth who vape were more addicted in 2022 than they were in 2017, according to a study published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

The study tracked 23,145 teenagers in the USA, Canada and England online for five years. Researchers, led by Dr. David Hammond of the University of Waterloo in Canada, used four dependence indicators for nicotine use:

  • Perceived addiction.
  • Frequent strong urges.
  • Time to first use after waking.
  • Days used in past month.

They also tracked two indicators for vaping only: Use events per day and the E-cigarette Dependence Scale.

Among youth who vape, all six indicators reflected heightened addiction in all three countries. To this point, more teens said they felt strong impulses to vape most days. In America, those urges went up from 31.6% of days in 2017 to more than 50 percent of days by 2022.

“We don’t know if it is the products that are becoming more addictive or if kids are using more and therefore becoming more addicted,” said co-author and UW-CTRI Research Director Dr. Megan Piper. “It’s possible that this is related to the advent of Juul and nicotine salt products, which came on the market in 2015, and were really popular by 2017. My guess, though, is that it isn’t the products per se, but the fact that more and more youth were using them and it started to pervade the culture. As we know, the more you use a nicotine product, the more likely you are to become dependent.”

Trends also showed vaping had caught up to smoking across dependence levels.

“Youth vaping was associated with a greater number of days used in the past month in Canada and the US,” Piper said. “It also showed a shorter time to first use for all countries and a higher likelihood of frequent strong urges compared to youth smoking in the US and Canada. This is perhaps not surprising, but it is alarming.”

Piper said the results are consistent with findings from other studies conducted over the same period, such as those from the National Youth Tobacco Survey.

Piper thanked the National Institutes of Health for their funding support.

Gomes MN, Reid JL, Rynard VL, East KA, Goniewicz ML, Piper ME, Hammond D. Comparison of Indicators of Dependence for Vaping and Smoking: Trends Between 2017 and 2022 Among Youth in Canada, England and the United States. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. Online March 30, 2024.