(Omaha) -- A recent study at the University of Nebraska Medical Center has found an increase in the amount of middle and high school students who use marijuana in e-cigarettes.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and was conducted by Dr. Daisy Dai, an associate professor at the UNMC College of Public Health. Using the National Youth Tobacco Survey, Dai analyzed responses from 38,000 students nationwide in grades 6-12.
“This study found out a large increase in kids vaping marijuana -- from 11 percent to 14 percent,” said Dai.
Dai says from a public health perspective, seeing THC use in adolescence is concerning.
“I think a comprehensive tobacco control to ban flavor and raising the age of tobacco use to 21 years old are critically needed," said Dai.
As of November, there had been nearly 2,300 reported cases of a vaping-related lung injury. The CDC says 77% of those injuries were in people with a history of vaping THC. Dai encourages parents to have conversations with their teens about vaping THC.
“Parents really need to raise their awareness of teen vaping nicotine and marijuana because this product could be very new to parents so they might not be aware of that," said Dai.
Dai says the increase in marijuana use in e-cigarettes among teens could be attributed to several factors, including the ease of hiding a vaping device.
“Currently e-cigarette products look very like school supplies," said Dai. "Parents need to be very careful because even for me it’s hard to distinguish between school supplies and e-cigarette products.”
Dai says THC use by adolescents is damaging.
“It’s associated with brain damage, adverse health effects, and it’s also associated with adverse school performance," said Dai. "Also, marijuana could be a gateway product to other substances.”
Dai hopes future research will look at the short- and long-term health effects of using marijuana in e-cigarettes by teens. The study was supported by the National Cancer Institute and U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Tobacco Products.