(Salt Lake City, UT) – New data released today by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) showed a substantial increase in the use of electronic cigarettes by youth in grades 8, 10, and 12. The data was included in the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP) annual Legislative Report and revealed that in 2015, 10.5 percent of Utah youth reported they currently use electronic cigarettes; nearly double the 5.8 percent reported in 2013. In the same time frame, adult e-cigarette use remained unchanged at 4.8 percent.
Traditional tobacco use among youth remained low at 3.4% but e-cigarette use grew at an alarming rate. The report indicated 30 percent of youth in grade 12 have tried e-cigarettes. Additionally, nearly half of all Utah youth who use e-cigarettes have never tried conventional cigarettes.
“While the use of electronic cigarettes leveled off among adults in 2014, the youth experimentation and use rates are more than double the rates reported by Utah adults,” said Dr. Joseph Miner, Executive Director of the UDOH. “The prevalence of fruit or candy-like flavored e-juices and the use of celebrities in advertising make these products especially enticing to youth.”
Findings in this report also detailed where youth are accessing e-cigarettes and e-juice. Most youth are borrowing the devices from friends, but others are illegally obtaining them from convenience stores, supermarkets, discount stores, gas stations, and tobacco or vape shops.
The UDOH works in partnership with Utah’s 13 local health departments to address tobacco prevention. “Despite this alarming trend, all of our local health departments have been working hard to educate their communities about e-cigarettes and the dangers of nicotine use by youth,” said Brian Bennion, Executive Director of the Weber-Morgan Health Department. “We are now seeing the impact of their work in relation to policy changes that make it harder for teens to access tobacco products but there is still more to be done.”
The UDOH encourages Utahns currently using tobacco and other nicotine devices to consider the long-term damage to their health, including emphysema, lung, mouth and other cancers, and tooth loss. Information on how to quit and free cessation services can be found at www.waytoquit.org.
To download a copy of the 2015 TPCP Legislative Report or to view e-cigarette data specific to your area, visit http://health.utah.gov/legislativereports/.
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