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Electronic cigarettes, otherwise known as e-cigarettes or vapes, have become extremely popular among young people in recent years. The National Youth Tobacco Survey showed an alarming 78% increase in vaping from just 11% in 2017 to 20.8% in 2018.
It’s a national issue, but it’s also important to realize vaping is occurring among youth in Douglas County.
On June 17, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, LiveWell Douglas County, Lawrence Public Schools, The Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence and the University of Kansas Cancer Center presented a public forum that included health information from a medical expert, personal experiences from youth with vaping, and a discussion about tackling this issue.
Don't panic if you missed it
You can watch this video of the forum, and you can also see this powerful video first played during the forum of members of the Lawrence chapter of Resist share their perspectives about vaping and e-cigarette use among youth and what we can do to stem the tide of this dangerous addiction.
Why this matters
A key part of the issue is though vapes are marketed as being less addictive and healthier than cigarettes, one Juul brand vape pod contains as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes. Studies show that 66% of teens believe vapes contain only flavoring and no nicotine, and in 2018, 1 in 5 high school students reported using an e-cigarette.
Nationally, 30.7% of teen e-cigarette users started smoking within 6 months compared to 8.1% of non-users, and 90% of lifelong tobacco users start use before the age of 21. Exposure to nicotine during adolescence has been shown to increase risk for cognitive issues later in life, and research from Washington State shows that students who reported vaping and tobacco use may be at increased risk for other behavioral health issues.
In Kansas, nearly 1 in 5 high school students regularly use some type of tobacco product (cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaping, chewing tobacco), and 1 in 3 have tried an e-cigarette. The prevalence of use combined with the lack of consumer information has led to a public health crisis both nationally and here in Douglas County.