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Coalition works to slow teen vaping rates

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data showing that 32.7 percent of U.S. high school students reported currently using e-cigarettes in 2019, compared to 24.1 percent in 2015. The data is from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which also found that the use of any tobacco product amongst the age group skyrocketed from 19.5 percent in 2017 to 36.5 percent in 2019.

Members of the Central WI Tobacco Free Coalition say the flavors and packaging of e-cigarettes play a big role in their popularity with young people.

“With flavors like strawberry pomegranate, it’s not surprising that these products appeal to teens,” said Jenna Flynn, coordinator for the Central WI Tobacco Free Coalition. “When you combine flavors and products that contain high levels of nicotine, there is risk for addiction.”

According to recent findings of the new study out of the University of Stanford School of Medicine, teens and young adults who vape are five times more likely to become infected with COVID-19 compared with those who did not use e-cigarettes. Those who both vaped and smoke conventional cigarettes were nearly seven times more likely to become infected.

The Central WI Tobacco Coalition has worked closely with school districts and youth serving organizations to help address this challenge through staff presentations, updating school policies, and outreach to parents. This effort will continue virtually this year. All Wisconsin children deserve tobacco-free schools -- the only policy that promotes zero exposure to tobacco products and nicotine delivery devices on school campuses.

“Addressing this issue is an uphill battle along with many other challenges this school year will bring, and it’ll take all of us working together to meet it,” said Flynn. Anyone who wishes to get more involved can visit our website.

There are resources to help parents learn more about these products and how they can help keep their kids tobacco-free. The Central WI Tobacco Free Coalition encourages parents to visit www.tobaccoischanging. com for information on the different tobacco products hooking kids, including e-cigarettes. Youth addicted to e-cigarettes or other tobacco products can also receive help through the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line by calling 1-800-QUIT NOW (784-8669) or texting “READY” to 200-400.