The 25th annual survey of Indiana youth shows high levels of e-cigarette use

  • Aug. 12, 2015


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The 25th Indiana Youth Survey, conducted by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University's School of Public Health-Bloomington, highlights an alarming rate of e-cigarette use across Grades 7 to 12. 

"We are very concerned to see that the number of Indiana youth using electronic cigarettes has exceeded the number of youth using traditional tobacco products, such as cigarettes,” Indiana Prevention Resource Center executive director Ruth Gassman said. Among the findings:

  • Indiana 12th-graders reported using electronic cigarettes at a rate of 24.8 percent; the national rate was 17.1 percent.
  • Electronic cigarettes or vape pens were the most prevalent nicotine-containing substance used by youth in the month before the survey was administered.

This is the first year the survey (formerly known as the Annual Survey of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use by Indiana Children and Adolescents) has asked about use of electronic vapor products such as e-cigarettes. 

The 2015 survey results are based on responses from 111,585 students in Grades 6 through 12 at 324 public and private schools in Indiana. The findings address the following issues: e-cigarette and tobacco use, alcohol use, marijuana use, methamphetamine use, prescription drug abuse, gambling and mental health, and parental incarceration.

Gambling behaviors are a concern

The Indiana Youth Survey researchers found that 40 percent, or more than 37,000 students in Grades 7 to 12, participate in some form of gambling each year. Of the students who gamble, over half of them report that they experience some problems related to their gambling, including trouble with finances, school and parents, and feeling bad about gambling. 

“As gambling options expand, including online gambling, monitoring the prevalence of gambling activities among youth is increasingly important for planning prevention efforts,” said Mary Lay, project manager of the Indiana Problem Gambling Awareness Program.

The survey included questions about the following forms of gambling: playing cards, betting on games, betting on sports, buying lottery tickets, gambling in a casino and playing online for money.

The Indiana Problem Gambling Awareness Program -- housed within the Indiana Prevention Resource Center and funded by a contract with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, with funds through the Indiana Problem Gamblers' Assistance Fund -- provides information and technical assistance to Indiana organizations seeking to prevent and treat problem gambling in Indiana.  

Other drug use rates lower than the national average

In general, past-month drug use rates for Indiana youth were lower than national rates from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the Indiana survey reports.

Indiana youth used alcohol at a rate of 24.5 percent, compared to 34.9 percent nationally. A total of 14.4 percent of Indiana students used marijuana, compared to 23.4 percent nationally. The survey also indicated that methamphetamine use by students was less than 1 percent, which is about the same in Indiana as it is nationally.

“Prevention education is having a positive effect,” Gassman said. “We're seeing groups having success in changing views about what constitutes risky behaviors. This is an important initial step because behaviors such as illicit drug use must be identified and viewed as problematic in order for communities to coalesce around prevention efforts.”

Changes to the survey this year

There were two versions of the survey given this year -- one to sixth-graders and one to seventh- through 12th-graders. Due to changes made to the survey, this year’s data cannot be compared to last year’s responses.

Schools participating in the survey now have the option to add up to 15 questions specific to their community.

“Not only is the survey data useful for planning for health education and prevention programming, but the data is very important for communities who want to apply for federal grants,” Gassman said. She said the IPRC is interested in adding new school corporations, particularly in counties where there has not been participation. To date, two-thirds of the state’s counties have participated in the survey.

The 2015 annual youth survey was coordinated by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center and funded by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration's Division of Mental Health and Addiction. The IPRC provides substance abuse and gambling prevention, treatment and recovery resources for those working with youth in schools and communities throughout Indiana.

For general questions, contact Carole Nowicke at 812-855-1237 or IPRC executive director Ruth Gassman can be reached at 812-855-1237 or For youth gambling information, contact Mary Lay at or 812-855-1237. For more information on participating in the school survey or interpretation of statistical results, contact Mikyoung Jun at or Susan Samuel at or 812-855-1237.

About the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington

With nearly 3,000 students in an array of undergraduate and advanced degree programs and more than 130 faculty in five academic departments, IU School of Public Health-Bloomington faculty and students conduct research, learn, teach and engage with communities across a broad spectrum of health, wellness and disease-prevention topics. In addition to its academic departments, the school administers Campus Recreational Sports, which serves roughly 80 percent of the IU Bloomington student body through various intramural, club and individual fitness opportunities.

Monthly use of electronic vapor products by Indiana seventh- to 12th-grade students.

Monthly use of electronic vapor products by Indiana seventh- to 12th-grade students.

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