Monday, September 12, 2016

Data Shows Half of Utah Youth Who Report Using Alcohol Also Vaping

(Salt Lake City, UT) – In 2015, more than half (55.5%) of Utah youth reporting alcohol use in the past 30 days also reported using electronic cigarettes or vape products. Both alcohol and nicotine can damage the developing brain.

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and the Utah Department of Human Services (DHS) teamed up to look at how Utah youth are using both alcohol and tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. The findings published in the UDOH Health Status Update (HSU) show high co-occurrence for use of both substances.

“About one-fourth of Utah youth who drank alcohol in the past 30 days reported that they also smoked conventional cigarettes,” said Janae Duncan, program manager for the UDOH Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. “Nicotine is highly addictive and most adult smokers become dependent before the age of 19, making use of tobacco products among adolescents a concern.”

Additional highlights from the report showed:
  • Utah students in grades 8, 10, and 12 were significantly more likely to report ever trying alcohol (23.4%) and e-cigarettes (22.9%) than conventional cigarettes (13.1%).
  • More than 10% of students reported current e-cigarettes use, followed by alcohol use (8.6%), and cigarette smoking (3.4%).
  • Use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes was highest in Southeast Utah health district (8.2%), comprised of Carbon, Emery, and Grand Counties.
  • Youth alcohol use was highest in Summit County (17.8%).
“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 at the DHS Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

Data was analyzed from the Utah SHARP (Student Health and Risk Prevention) survey, which is conducted in Utah public schools in the spring of odd-numbered years in collaboration with the UDOH, DHS, and the Utah State Board of Education. The survey asks questions about physical and mental health, substance abuse, anti-social behaviors, and the risk and protective factors that predict these behaviors.

“Even though more research is needed, we already know that nicotine and alcohol use damage the developing brain. We look forward to collaborating with other agencies to develop policies to protect our youth from e-cigarettes and underage drinking. It is important that we work together because ultimately we all want to prevent addiction in adulthood,” said Duncan.

Visit for a copy of the HSU findings. For help quitting tobacco visit Parents who want to learn about prevention of underage drinking may visit

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Media Contact:
Brittany Karzen
Utah Department of Health
714-267-3679 (m)
Susannah Burt
Department of Human Services
801-538-4388 (o) 801-920-7448 (m)