While the federal minimum age for purchase and possession of tobacco products was recently raised from 18 to 21 years, usage of nicotine in the form of electronic cigarettes (e-cig) and vape products continues to rise at an alarming rate among our nation’s teens.
The Center for Disease Control reports that e-cig use among high school students increased from 1.5% in 2011 to 20.8% in 2018. In 2019, the Kansas Communities That Care annul survey found that of the Kansas students who responded, 37.23% of 10th and 11th have tried e-cig, vape pens or e-hookahs.
In an effort to reach Kansas’ young people, Johnny Lang, community specialist from the Douglas County Citizens Committee on Alcoholism (DCCA) provided a presentation titled “I’m not smoking, I’m Juuling” to 495 students at Great Bend Middle School earlier this month.
Beyond alerting students to the amount of liquid nicotine found in e-cigarettes, sharing staggering statistics of teen use as well as detrimental health effects, Lang also outlined how companies have invested in elaborate marketing campaigns aimed at convincing underage customers to vape. The presentation provided a side-by-side comparison of popular children/teen food products next to vape flavors and packaging. The introduction of candy-flavored, high-nicotine products that are also easier to conceal than cigarettes is alluring to young audiences.
At the close of the presentation, students were invited to sign a pledge to remain tobacco- and nicotine-free.
“Twenty-nine students went a step further in the fight against the tobacco industry’s influence on Kansas,” said Katelyn Sigler, public health educator for the Barton County Health Department. “By signing up to join Great Bend Middle School’s Resist Chapter, these students join a State-wide, student-led, movement to reduce tobacco-use rates in Kansas.”
For more information about Barton County’s efforts to educate youth about the dangers of nicotine, contact the Barton County Health Department, 620-793-1902.