In December, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an Advisory on E-cigarette Use Among Youth. The advisory, prompted by recent skyrocketing rates of e-cigarette use by our nation’s youth, alerts parents, teachers and health professionals about new types of e-cigarettes and the negative health consequences of youth use of these products.
E-cigarettes and vapes pose a serious health risk as nearly all contain nicotine, which can harm brain development as teens grow. No amount of nicotine is safe for youth as there could be negative implications for learning, memory, and attention. Evidence also suggests that nicotine primes the adolescent brain for addiction, increasing the risk of future addictions not only to tobacco, but other substances like illicit drugs. Compared to youth who have never used them, youth who have tried e-cigarettes are twice as likely to start smoking in the future.
In Minnesota youth e-cigarette use is at its highest point ever recorded. One in five high school students use e-cigarettes, nearly a 50 percent increase since 2014. This increase is no surprise given the Tobacco Industry’s promotion of these products. E-cigarettes are often flavored, and flavors appeal to kids. They are also advertised and available online and in stores where kids shop. Some products like JUUL, come in sleek and concealable designs, making them easy to hide.
The Minnesota Department of Health recommends immediate action requiring the participation of parents, educators, health care providers, and policy makers.