Chances are, your kids know more about e-cigarettes than you do. Youth e-cigarette usage has been declared a national epidemic, but rates among Hawaii’s middle and high school youth are more than twice the national average.
Why are we facing a youth e-cigarette epidemic? In recent years, we’ve seen an explosion of sweet-flavored tobacco products. Flavors such as “Sour Worms, “Kool-Laid,” “Molokai Hot Bread,” “Chee Hoo,” and “Haupia” are enticing to Hawaii’s youth, many of whom are unaware of the dangerous chemicals, impact of nicotine on developing brains, or potential lifelong addiction. And we know flavors are fueling the youth epidemic. 97% of youth using e-cigarettes say they had used a flavored product in the past month, with over 15,000 unique flavors available on the market, it’s no wonder our keiki are getting hooked.
Recent national restrictions on flavors are woefully inadequate. They do not apply to bottled e-liquids, or menthol flavor, a giant loophole. To start to reverse Hawaii’s youth epidemic, comprehensive policies are needed to regulate e-cigarettes, including eliminating all flavors, with
For every adult using e-cigarettes to quit, 81 young people will become smokers.
While some adults claim to quit smoking using e-cigarettes (and flavors), these are not FDA-approved cessation devices. A recent study projects that for every adult who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking, another 81 young people would eventually become daily cigarette users through e-cigarette use that year. Eighth grade students who use e-cigarettes are 10 times more likely than their peers who do not use e-cigarettes to eventually smoke cigarettes.
There are numerous health impacts from e-cigarettes: from bronchitis and other respiratory problems to exposure to cancer-causing chemicals from even second-hand emissions. Teens are particularly vulnerable to nicotine, which permanently impacts the developing brain, including memory, attention-span and learning ability. Each day, there are new studies with information on the dangers – do you want your keiki to be guinea pigs in this experiment?