SALT LAKE CITY — A new study shows that among Utah youths who are using alcohol, a majority of them are also using e-cigarettes or vaping products.
The Utah Department of Health and Utah Department of Human Services collaborated on the study, which showed high rates of youths using both substances in conjunction.
“Nicotine is highly addictive and most adult smokers become dependent before the age of 19, making use of tobacco products among adolescents a concern,” Utah Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Control program manager Karlee Adams said in an emailed statement.
The Student Health and Risk Prevention (SHARP) survey is administered during the spring of odd-numbered years and is open to students in grades six, eight, 10 and 12. It asks questions about physical and mental health, substance abuse and other behaviors.
According to the study, 59.8 percent of Utah youths who said they used alcohol in the past 30 days also said they used e-cigarettes or vape products. That was far higher than the rate of youths who reported using traditional cigarettes along with alcohol, at 23.1 percent, the study showed.
About 11 percent of students surveyed reported e-cigarette use, according to the study. Almost 9 percent said they were using alcohol and about 3 percent said they were smoking cigarettes.
The rate of current e-cigarette use was highest in Weber and Morgan counties at 15 percent, according to the study.
Alcohol use was highest in Emery, Grand and Carbon counties at a 15.3 percent rate. Cigarette use was highest in Daggett, Duchesne and Uintah counties at a 5.9 percent rate.
Almost one third of students surveyed who said they used e-cigarettes or traditional cigarettes said they either borrowed or bummed them, according to the study. Other common ways students obtained those substances included giving money to someone else to buy them or getting them from someone aged 18 or older.
Some of the best ways to reduce alcohol and tobacco use among Utah youths include limiting locations where those products are sold, and restricting advertising for those products that targets youth, according to the study.
The report also recommends stronger enforcement of laws that prohibit adults from giving alcohol or tobacco to youths.
“We know that alcohol and nicotine can affect how a teen’s brain develops. Use of these products alone or together can ‘hard-wire’ the brain for addiction into their adult life,” said Susannah Burt, prevention program manager for Utah Department of Human Services Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.