Protective Factors for Nicotine and Marijuana Vaping Among U.S. Adolescents

  • Michael J. Parks
    Address correspondence to: Michael J. Parks, PhD, Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement, University of Minnesota, 1954 Buford Avenue, St. Paul MN 55108.
    Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement, College for Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota
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  • Megan E. Patrick
    Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Published:December 16, 2021DOI:


      Nicotine and marijuana vaping among U.S. adolescents are public health priorities. Research has assessed the demographic and risk factors related to vaping, but there is a dearth of research on protective factors for vaping. On the basis of the healthy youth development perspective, the developmental assets framework is used to assess cumulative protective factors and vaping in a national sample of adolescents.


      Data came from the nationally representative Monitoring the Future study, consisting of 12th graders (n=6,982) from the 48 contiguous U.S. states (2017–2019). Past 30–day nicotine and marijuana vaping and developmental assets (low, medium, or high) were examined. Covariates included demographics and other substance use. Weighted descriptive statistics, logistic regression, postestimation analyses, and multiple imputation were used.


      Students with higher assets were less likely to vape nicotine and marijuana, even after adjusting for covariates. The odds of nicotine vaping were lower for students with medium assets (AOR=0.65, 95% CI=0.54, 0.78) and high assets (AOR=0.22, 95% CI=0.16, 0.29) than for students with low assets. Similarly, the odds of marijuana vaping were lower for youth with medium assets (AOR=0.54, 95% CI=0.42, 0.69) and high assets (AOR=0.09, 95% CI=0.05, 0.18) than for those with low assets. Social competence and positive peer norms were strongly protective against both forms of vaping.


      The healthy youth development perspective applies to the critical issues of nicotine and marijuana vaping among adolescents. Promoting cumulative assets may help to prevent vaping among U.S. adolescents, and increasing the specific assets of social competence and positive peer norms could be particularly fruitful.
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