How popular are e-cigarettes among tweens and teens?

• 58% of Yellowstone County high schoolers have tried e-cigarettes and 40% report being current users.

• 29% of Yellowstone County middle school students have tried e-cigarettes and 17% are current users.

Statewide, Montana students who use e-cigarettes, use them frequently. Thirteen percent said they had used on 20 or more days in the 30 days before they were surveyed. Nine percent said they use daily and 19% said they had used e-cigarette products on school property in the 30 days before they were surveyed.

Those numbers are drawn from the 2019 Montana Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a study conducted biennially through the Montana Office of Public Instruction. The data indicate that thousands of Montana kids ages 12 to 18 have used various electronic nicotine delivery systems. They use e-cigarettes at school and away from school.

The risk survey statistics are reflected in what a Missoula high senior told a Montana legislative committee in January:

“I have walked into the (school) bathroom many times to find a metallic-sweet air piercing my nose and throat. Some kids vape in class and blow it into their sleeves or shirt collars. Sometimes kids blow a thick cloud of vapor in into my face because they think it is funny. I do not want any nicotine or chemicals in my lungs. Nobody does, but the addictive properties make the right decision harder and harder to make for a lot of students. Vaping has become a social activity alongside alcohol and marijuana for many students, and many are peer-pressured into it.”