While overall use of marijuana among Oregon youth has remained flat, the primary way they’re using the substance — vaping — has dramatically increased.

While overall use of marijuana among Oregon youth has remained flat, the primary way they’re using the substance — vaping — has dramatically increased.

Kristian Foden-Vencil/OPB

Young people are dramatically changing the way they use cannabis and nicotine, according to a new report out of the Oregon Health Authority.

The 2019 Oregon Healthy Teens survey found that while there aren’t more young people using cannabis, the ones who do are increasingly vaping it, rather than smoking it.

Vaping is up almost 300% since 2017 – the last time the teen survey was collected. 

The 2019 Oregon Healthy Teen survey found an increase in the number of young people who report vaping cannabis, but a decrease in teenagers smoking it. 

The 2019 Oregon Healthy Teen survey found an increase in the number of young people who report vaping cannabis, but a decrease in teenagers smoking it. 

2019 Oregon Halthy Teen survey/Oregon Health Authority

State epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said it’s alarming, especially since young people are increasingly vaping tobacco as well.

“So we have a whole generation of children who are starting to become addicted to nicotine, and this may last for the rest of their lives,” Sidelinger said.

The research comes on the heels of an Oregon state ban on flavored vaping products.

A court has blocked that ban for nicotine. The ban remains in place for flavored marijuana, and state officials say cannabis retailers appear to be cooperating.

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now counts 34 vaping-related deaths and 16-hundred injuries. They’re in every state except Alaska.

About half of Oregon high school students who currently use e-cigarettes report they never smoked conventional cigarettes — not even one time.

The report also found that in Oregon, youth vaping overlaps with use of conventional tobacco and flavored tobacco products. For example, more than half of Oregon eighth and eleventh graders who use tobacco use flavored tobacco. Roughly half of all youth who currently use conventional tobacco products started with vape products.

A February 2019 study in the journal JAMA Network Open, one of the first studies to track youth e-cigarette users over time, found that young people who vape e-cigarettes are nearly three times as likely to start smoking cigarettes as peers who don’t vape.