The report, called Monitoring the Future, surveyed 44,482 students from 392 public and private high schools across the US.
The research, which was funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), revealed that more than one in three high school seniors and almost one in three sophomores claim to have vaped at least once in the last year. Almost 21 percent of high school seniors said they vaped a nicotine product within the last 30 days, an 11 percent increase from 2017.
Vaping is done with an electronic cigarette or hookah, and the vapors inhaled can contain either nicotine or marijuana, sometimes with flavoring added.
The study also found that alcohol use and binge drinking rates are decreasing, though alcohol was still the most commonly used substance cited in the report. The percentage of teenagers who reported alcohol use this year has decreased by 58 percent since 1994.
There has also been a decrease in opioid use among teenagers in the US over the past five years, despite the current opioid epidemic among adults in the US. For example, Vicodin use decreased by 58.4 percent in eighth-graders, 75.4 percent in 10th-graders and 67.2 percent in 12th-graders over the past five years, according to the study.
"Nicotine is quite an addictive drug, particularly when you are exposed to nicotine as an adolescent," NIDA Director Nora Volkow told USA Today. "The concern is these kids that become addicted to nicotine from vaping also may transition to tobacco smoking."
According to Volkow, teens may be turning away from alcohol and opioids due to the amount of time they spend on their electronic devices.
"We know drug taking among adolescents is a very social behavior," Volkow said. "Now that kids use more and more social media and have less time in face-to-face encounters, the question is: do they have less of an opportunity to be in an environment where they are exposed to drugs?" Volkow asked, suggesting that vaping is not a social behavior.
In September, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that the agency is considering a ban on online sales of electronic cigarettes.
"E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous ‒ and dangerous ‒ trend among teens," Gottlieb said in a September 12 statement, Sputnik previously reported. "The FDA won't tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products," he added, also citing FDA data stating that e-cigarette use among among high school-aged kids has risen by 80 percent year on year from 2017 to 2018.