Two health crises among youth — a mental health crisis and a vaping epidemic — pose increasing threats to a generation of young people. They are also linked in ways many may not realize, according to a body of peer-reviewed studies.
Both crises have intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the pandemic, 70% of young people said anxiety and depression were a major problem among peers in their community, according to a Pew Research Center report. Since then, the problem has gotten worse, as the prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms in youth has doubled compared to before the pandemic. Alongside this mental health crisis, youth e-cigarette use — driven by products that quickly deliver highly-addictive nicotine — has remained at epidemic levels, with one in five high school students vaping in 2020, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey. In the time since that survey, national e-cigarette sales have risen to record highs and the risks of vaping have become more apparent, as evidence shows it can harm lung health and may put users at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.
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