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E-Cigarette Use By Adolescents Has Doubled

Summit County Health Department

A state survey shows a dramatic drop in Utah Teens smoking traditional cigarettes. However, the use of e cigarette products by youth has had an upswing. Summit County health officials are concerned about the effects these chemicals may have on people long term. Carolyn Murray has this:

The Utah Department of Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Division and the State Board of Education partner to conduct the SHARP Survey which stands for school health and risk prevention. It’s done every odd year in schools throughout the state in grades six, eight, 10 and 12. It covers a lot of issues including lifestyles and mental health and substance abuse.

Adolescent cigarette use dropped from 3.9 percent to 2.9 percent in the past couple of years but vape product use has doubled from 5.8 to more than 11 percent. Summit County Health Department Health Educator, Alyssa Mitchell said the Vape products are packaged and marketed to young people.

“But, these new products, they look cool and the flavors attract the youth. And they call these flavors like strawberry, Captain Crunch and the packaging is very bright and colorful. The association between it can sou7nd good and can possibly taste good, relates to, it’s probably safer than the regular tobacco products and we’re finding that’s just not true. There are just as many chemicals in these e-juices as regular cigarettes.”

She said the advertising makes it look fun and relaxing to try out the new e-cigarette flavors.

“Youth are drawn to go and try these flavors and there’s also the misconception that vaping is just water vapor and that it’s safer than regular tobacco products. And research is showing that’s just not the case. The risk of addiction is still there especially with the nicotine e-juices and for those that don’t have the nicotine in them, there’s still other chemicals, cancer causing chemicals that youth are breathing those right into their lungs.”

Mitchell said kids are ordering the e-cigarette juices on line. She said the chemicals are bad for your lungs regardless of whether there is nicotine in the product.

“The jewel brands have been really popular because they’re small and relatively easy to hide. Really, we are actually finding that a lot of youth are turning to on line resources to go and purchase these. We also encourage parents to watch your Venmo accounts and your pay-pal accounts.  If your child orders a package, check on what it is. Because, many of these packages, especially with some on line places, these bottles just come unlabeled and they’re just colorful liquid.”

Vaping systems vary, some emit little vapor and others emit quite a lot.

“And research has shown that some of that vapor does contain still the cancer-causing chemicals that are in the juice as well. So, it’s not safe to vape and have other people breath in that vapor."

Mitchell said research is showing the heating mechanism causes the body to absorb the chemicals even faster than a lit cigarette.

“They’re changing the compounds and causing these cancer-causing chemicals to break down and be absorbed more readily than a regular tobacco product is. So, research is saying, hang on, lets look at what these are doing long term. And, also noting that youth who are trying these vaping products are getting nicotine poisoning and sick very quickly because you’re actually able to absorb more nicotine than you would in a regular cigarette very quickly."

The Health Department partners with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office and the school districts to educate adolescents and parents about vaping risks. They’re visiting health classes throughout the county and using a program called Aspire to help youth learn more about the effects of using vape products.

“It’s a really nice educational tool and when you’re in it, it’s almost like a little video game and the youth play a character who has to go through all these different levels to learn about the different tobacco products including e-cigarettes and the harmful health effects that could potentially happen when using these products."

There is a Front Line/Blue Line event scheduled for December 3rd   at 6:30 at North Summit High School in Coalville where people can learn more about the risks of using vape products.


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