Minnesota teens are still vaping at a 'very high rate'

The majority of youth e-cig users report signs of nicotine dependence, MDH says.
Publish date:

Public health efforts to slow e-cigarette use in Minnesota teens appear to be working, but teens are still vaping at "very high rates," including a marked rise in teens vaping marijuana.

That's according to the Minnesota Department of Health's 2020 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey, which found one in five high school students use e-cigarettes and more than 70% of middle and high schoolers who vape report signs of nicotine dependence.  

Last year's survey suggests public health efforts have slowed the "rapid growth" of e-cigarette use that's happened in recent years, with the report noting e-cigarette use "held steady" in 2020 compared to 2017.

Related [Jan. 27]: Minnesota gets mixed grades on its tobacco report card

In 2017, 26.4% of high school students and 5.2% of middle school students surveyed reported using a tobacco product in the past 30 days. 

But in 2020, fewer students reported recently using tobacco, with 20.5% of high school students and 4.1% of middle school students saying they'd used tobacco in the past month. 

“This research suggests our public health efforts are working but also that there is a need for continued work,” MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a statement. “In particular, the data on youth vaping alarms us, as we see how this industry continues to use flavors, advertising, internet sales and other tactics to keep addicting youth to harmful nicotine.”

Meanwhile, the survey showed youth use of cigarettes and cigars has dropped to its lowest rates ever recorded in the survey, which has been conducted since 2000. Just over 3% of high school students report smoking cigarettes over the last 30 days and cigar use among high schoolers is just as low, MDH said. 

Nicotine dependence

In the 2020 survey, it was the first time MDH included a nicotine dependence scale for e-cigarettes. 

It found 70.4% of students who used e-cigarettes in the past month reported one or more signs of dependence on nicotine.

“These new data are consistent with conversations I’ve had with teens over the past three years in focus groups we conducted about youth vaping behavior and in our vaping prevention workshops,” Elyse Levine Less, executive director at the Tobacco-Free Alliance, said in a statement. “Teens do not intend to get addicted to nicotine and underestimate the risk."

Vaping marijuana

The number of e-cigarette users who have ever used an e-cigarette device to vape marijuana/THC has gone up from 2017 to 2020, the survey found. 

In 2017, 15.5% of middle school students and 33.4% of high school students who use e-cigs had ever used them to vape marijuana/THC. 

Last year's survey saw a "statistically significant" increase compared to 2017, with 71.7% of middle school students and 65.1% of high school students who use e-cigs saying they've used them to vape marijuana/THC. 

“The good news is that we know what it takes to make a positive change; we just need to act,” Malcolm said. “Minnesota needs a comprehensive approach to reverse the youth tobacco epidemic.”

MDH says preventing youth tobacco use requires a "sustainable and comprehensive approach," like counter-marketing efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of tobacco and e-cigs, as well as measures to reduce access to these products.

For youth looking to quit tobacco, the State of Minnesota has a program called My Life, My QuitTM, which is free and confidential. Teens can chat with a coach online at MyLifeMyQuit.com or text “Start” to 36072.

Next Up

Karl-Anthony Towns

Hornets erupt in 2nd half to blow out Timberwolves

The Timberwolves were outscored 73-46 after halftime.


Authorities investigate fatal Bloomington house fire

One person has been reported dead in the fire.

Minneapolis skyline

New tool helps Minneapolis homeowners disavow racial covenants in deeds

A new free program connects homeowners with the City Attorney's office to complete the process

Kyle Rudolph

Watch: Vikings create tribute video for Kyle Rudolph

Rudolph's 10-year tenure with the Vikings ended when he was released on Tuesday.

Zach Parise

Wild scratch Zach Parise for Wednesday's game vs. Vegas

Parise will be a healthy scratch for the second time in his 16-year career.

shawn myers 1

Charges: Windham hospital patient threatened to kill staff, spit on them

Shawn Myers is charged with felony terroristic threats.

kaplans tiktok

Minnesota grandparents go viral for 'distancing duo' songs on TikTok

Their most recent duet about getting their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has gotten more than 67,000 likes.

CHS Field

Start of St. Paul Saints season delayed to May

Major League Baseball says it's being 'prudent' in delaying the minor league season.

caribou beyond meat sandwich

Caribou Coffee is the latest to add plant-based meat to its menu

The plant-based protein market is exploding, expected to reach $74.2 billion in the next six years.


'Severe lung injuries' linked to vaping found in Minnesota teens

Similar reports have been received in Wisconsin as well.

Teen vaping use in Minnesota as risen 'sharply,' study finds

There's been a significant increase in 8th and 11th graders vaping.


Severe lung injury linked to additive in e-cigarettes, vaping products

The patients experienced symptoms that were similar to COVID-19.


Minnesota to sue e-cig maker JUUL, accusing it of 'preying' upon students

AG Keith Ellison and Gov. Tim Walz announced the lawsuit on Wednesday.


More cases of vaping-linked severe lung injuries reported in Minnesota

Health officials say there have been a further 11 suspected cases.

Minnesota House passes bill to ban indoor vaping

The bill, which would greatly expand the indoor smoking ban, now heads to the Senate.


Health department reports first vaping-injury death in MN

The person who died suffered a serious lung injury.


Minnesota gets mixed grades on its tobacco report card

In Minnesota, the economic cost due to smoking is $2.519 million with 5,910 deaths per year attributed to smoking.