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Study: Marijuana vaping more common among Hispanic, Black youths

Study: Marijuana vaping more common among Hispanic, Black youths
A new CDC analysis found that Hispanic adolescents and teens are most likely to consume marijuana using e-cigarettes, followed by Black youths and White youths. Photo by 1503849/Pixabay

April 26 (UPI) -- Hispanic and Black adolescents and teens are more likely to smoke marijuana using e-cigarettes than their White peers, an analysis published Monday by JAMA Pediatrics found.

More than one in four Hispanic youths in grades 6 through 12 reported using vaping devices to smoke marijuana in 2020, compared to 19% of Black students and 18% of White students, the data showed.

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Just under 20% of adolescents and teens surveyed used the devices to smoke marijuana in 2020, up from just over 11% in 2017, according to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly 70% of those who use e-cigarettes have vaped marijuana, the researchers said.

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"Marijuana use during adolescence is associated with decline in memory, attention and learning," the CDC researchers wrote.

"Evidence-based strategies to reduce marijuana use in e-cigarettes are important for protecting young people from these health risks," they said.

Previous studies have found that teens who vape tobacco-based products are more likely to use the devices for marijuana than those who are not current users.

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This is despite the fact that research has shown that vaping damages the lungs as much as traditional cigarettes, including a particularly severe form of lung injury linked specifically with marijuana-based devices.

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The findings of this study are based on an analysis of responses to the National Youth Tobacco Surveys, an ongoing, CDC-led assessment of tobacco use among children, adolescents and teens across the country.

Of the nearly, 14,000 students in grades 6 through 12 included in the analysis, nearly 2,500, or roughly 18%, reported using e-cigarettes to smoke marijuana.

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Nationally, this would equate to an estimated 5.1 million middle school and high school students using marijuana in e-cigarettes.

Rates were highest, at nearly 26%, among Hispanic youths, followed by Black youths, at just over 19%, and White youths, at just over 18%, the researchers said.

Though increases occurred across all racial and ethnic groups, marijuana vaping among Hispanic youths rose the most, 82%, between 2017 and 2020, they said.

"E-cigarette use among youth and young adults is unsafe, regardless of the substances used in these products, including marijuana," the CDC researchers wrote.

"Initiating marijuana use at younger ages can lead to higher risks of more problematic use later in life," they said.

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