Nearly half of teens who vape say they want to quit

Behind the headlines about skyrocketing rates of vaping among teens is another troubling story: young vapers who want to quit but can’t.

A national survey of 14,798 young people, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, found that nearly a quarter of those who had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days tried to completely quit within the past year. Nearly 45% reported seriously thinking about quitting.

“This suggests to me that vaping cessation interventions are urgently needed,” said study co-author Adam Leventhal, founding director of the USC Institute for Addiction Science. “Youth deserve information about how to quit vaping. And for those not interested in quitting, public education campaigns that increase motivation to quit could be useful.”

USC research indicates teens could use help quitting vaping

In 2019, a quarter of high school students in the United States reported using electronic nicotine products within the past 30 days and 11.7% reported daily use. Kids who vape are at risk for nicotine addiction, exposure to toxins and switching to regular cigarettes.

Vaping cessation interventions are not widely available, and existing programs haven’t received much scientific scrutiny. Before taking on those challenges, a team of researchers that included Leventhal wanted to find out the degree of interest in stop-vaping aid among youth.

Of the youth surveyed, nearly 500 of them reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. The researchers found that motivation to quit and the incidence of quitting attempts were consistent across different demographic and smoking-history subgroups.

“Scientists need to determine whether counseling programs that help teens quit cigarette smoking can be adapted for e-cigarette vaping and then help teens access these programs,” Leventhal said.


In addition to Leventhal, who is a professor of preventive medicine and psychology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, other authors of the study — published as a research letter — include Tracy Smith, Georges Nahhas, Matthew Carpenter, Lindsay Squeglia, Vanessa Diaz and Jennifer Dahne, all of the Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine.

The study was supported with grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (K23-DA045766, K01-DA047433, K23-AA025399, U54-CA180905, K24-DA048160) and by the Biostatistics Shared Resource, Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina (grant P30-CA138313).

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