Is vaping linked to delinquency? A study from the University of Texas – San Antonio and published in the Journal of Criminal Justice concluded that teens who vape, especially those who vape marijuana, are more likely to steal and commit acts of violence. The study did not reach any conclusions as to cause and effect, only correlation. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 4.9 million middle and high school students used tobacco in 2018. Researchers tracked 8th and 10th grade teens across the nation and cross-referenced vaping linked to delinquency divided into four groups, including:
- Violence, which included gang activity, carrying weapons to school, and fighting.
- Property crimes including theft and damage to property
- Miscellaneous delinquency such as running away, or trespassing
- Multiple types of delinquency.
The study was published by UTSA criminal justice professor Dylan Jackson, and is one of the first of its kind. According to the UTSA announcement of the study, Jackson found that teens who vape, “are at an elevated risk of engaging in criminal activities such as violence and property theft. He also found that teens who vape marijuana are at a significantly higher risk of violent and property offenses than youth who ingest marijuana through traditional means.”
That said, before we get all worked up about how vaping is the first sign of the apocalypse, we should probably take a breath and remember that a number of long-term studies have already found a correlation between teen marijuana use and later criminal involvement — long before vaping was even invented.
The study did report that teens who vape marijuana (instead of smoking or eating it) exhibited the highest risk of delinquent behavior – and significantly higher than teens who vaped non-illicit substances (i.e., flavors).
Researchers say that the “strength of the relationship between vaping and delinquency is contingent on what is being vaped, with marijuana vaping being most heavily correlated with delinquency” – suggesting that policy and educational initiatives are needed to try to curb this dangerous new trend.
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