Vaping Rates Rise for Underage Students


Skyline and many other Utah high schools face an epidemic unlike any other — nicotine use. Vape use has risen highly since 2013, with the state of Utah reporting that 10.7% of high school students used electronic vapor products on at least one day in the past 30 days. Of Skyline’s 2,238 students, that makes about 245 students who consistently use nicotine products, even though the legal age to purchase tobacco products was raised from 19 to 21 in 2019. In an investigation, the state of Utah found that about 7.8% of retailers would sell tobacco to underage users, with retailers including grocery stores, gas stations, and smoke shops. 

Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical that has plagued the lives of many Skyline students. When asked, an anonymous senior at Skyline said, “I can’t get away from it.” They have been using nicotine since freshman year, and they have been addicted ever since. “I’ve tried to quit, but it’s harder than you think,” they said. The age groups with the highest rate of nicotine addiction are older teens and young adults, according to the Utah State Health Department. 

States across the country banned electronic vaping products with a 5% concentration recently, resulting in over 5 million vape products being taken off shelves. Many underage addicts have felt the need to resort to sketchy, unapproved vapes. “You never know if you’re getting what you think you are,” a junior student said. Another attempt to dispel underage nicotine use was the ban of flavored vapes, leaving only menthol, tobacco, and mint flavored devices, as most underage users were using flavored vapes. However, this ban hasn’t stopped many users. “I just switched to menthol after that,” one student said. “It’s not about the flavors anymore, because I’m addicted.” 

Despite officials’ attempts to curb underage nicotine use, the rate continues to go up; students are continuing to use nicotine products, even with an increasing number of studies showing that using electronic vaping devices is harmful. Rates of vape use among students is about double than that of adults as of 2019.