Teen vaping nicotine dependence increasing in Minnesota: Survey data

Minnesota teenagers have increasingly found themselves dependent on nicotine, thanks in part to the rise in popularity of vaping, a new study has found.

According to data from the Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey, 70% of students who vape say they want to quit, and nearly two-thirds have tried to quit in the past.

Meanwhile, 79.6% of surveyed students who use e-cigarettes, or vapes, reported suffering dependence on the devices, which can provide high levels of nicotine and lead to stronger withdrawal symptoms such as mood fluctuations, stress, anxiety and depression.

"It’s a dire situation that so many of our teens are struggling with the health harms of nicotine dependence," Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Brooke Cunningham said in a statement accompanying the data. "Many teens may smoke or vape because they think it helps them relieve stress or anxiety, but the nicotine can actually worsen those feelings. We want teens to know that we understand the mental health challenges they may be facing and how hard it is to quit, and that free help is out there to support them."

The Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey data show that among students who vaped in the past 30 days, 49.5% vaped at least 20 in the past 30 days – a 47% increase since 2020, and a 165% increase since 2017.

Until age 25, nicotine can negatively affect learning, attention and memory. It also increases risk for addiction to other substances, the study says.

A majority of teens surveyed – 76.3% – reported their first tobacco product was flavored. In 2023, 93.3% of students who vape used a flavored vape in the past 30 days.

However, data show that overall vaping usage numbers could be declining.

In 2023, 13.9% of high school students reported vaping in the past 30 days – a decline from 19.3% in 2020.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) offers the My Life, My Quit program to support teens in quitting commercial tobacco use, including vaping, by texting "Start My Quit" to 36072.