While fewer American teens are lighting up cigarettes, more of them are vaping instead, a new report shows.

At the same time, marijuana use has held steady as it remains more popular than cigarettes and, in a piece of good news, misuse of opioid painkillers like OxyContin has actually dropped among adolescents.

In 2017, more than 1 in 4 high school seniors said they've vaped during the past year -- and most apparently don't know they're toying with a potentially addictive product.

Nearly 28 percent of 12th graders reported trying an e-cigarette or other vaping device in 2016, according to results from the 2017 Monitoring the Future survey, sponsored by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

But when asked what they'd inhaled while vaping, about 52 percent of high school seniors responded "just flavoring." Only 33 percent said they'd inhaled vapor that contains nicotine.

"They don't even realize that what they're using is a tobacco product," said Erika Sward, assistant vice president of the American Lung Association.

E-cigarettes contain fewer harmful chemicals than traditional tobacco products, and might prove useful in helping adults quit smoking, said NIDA Deputy Director Dr. Wilson Compton.

But "that's a very different story when you're talking about youths who may not have used any other tobacco product," Compton pointed out. "Instead of this being a tradeoff, this could be an entree into what we know can be a lifelong, extraordinarily harmful habit. Kids that start with vaping do transition to smoked tobacco more often than those who've never used e-cigarettes."

Sward said the survey results "really underscore why aggressive action from the [U.S.] Food and Drug Administration is required" regarding regulation of e-cigarettes.

But the FDA announced in July that it would delay its review of vaping products that are already on the market for another five years, Sward noted.

"That delay of five years really locks in all of the products that are currently on the market that have flavorings and appeal to children," Sward said. "[The] FDA's decision to delay true oversight is going to have significant consequences." 

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