A school survey shows nearly 1 in 11 U.S. students have used marijuana in electronic cigarettes, heightening concern about the popularity of vaping among teens, the Associated Press reports. E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine; results published Monday mean 2.1 million middle and high school students have used them to get high. The devices are considered a less dangerous alternative to regular cigarettes, despite little research on their long-term effects including whether they help smokers quit. The rise in teenagers using them has alarmed health officials. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration gave the five largest e-cigarette makers 60 days to produce plans to stop underage use of their products.
Nearly 9 percent of students surveyed in 2016 said they used an e-cigarette device with marijuana, according to the report in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. That included one-third of those who ever used e-cigarettes. The number is worrying “because cannabis use among youth can adversely affect learning and memory and may impair later academic achievement and education,” said researcher Katrina Trivers of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s unclear whether marijuana vaping is increasing among teens or holding steady. The devices have grown into a multi-billion industry, but they are relatively new. “The health risks of vaping reside not only in the vaping devices, but in the social environment that comes with it,” said University of Michigan researcher Richard Miech. Kids who vape are more likely to become known as drug users and make friends with drug users, he said, adding that “hanging out with drug users is a substantial risk factor for future drug use.”