(LOUISVILLE, Ky - December 5, 2019) Data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 6.2 million middle and high school students are using tobacco products, and that 5.3 million of them (85 percent) are using e-cigarettes, or "vapes." Following is a statement from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.
"The youth vaping epidemic continues to threaten the immediate and long-term health of adolescents and teens in this country by exposing them to nicotine and a host of other toxins that are known to damage their developing brains and bodies," said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. "More than one in four high school students and one in 10 middle schoolers are using e-cigarettes in 2019, and at least a quarter of them are likely addicted. Many of these kids would never have touched a cigarette. And too many of them think e-cigs are 'cool,' and that there's little or no harm in even intermittent vaping. Neither is true. E-cigs are just as insidious for youth as any other tobacco product and it's definitely not cool that the tobacco industry is using the same old tactics to manipulate a new generation of kids into becoming lifetime nicotine addicts.
"We have several policy answers and they're proven to work. We need to tax vapes, at least the same amount as cigarettes. We need to raise the age for buying tobacco from 18 to 21, and assess stiff penalties on retailers that sell to underage buyers.
"The tobacco industry outspends public health more than 73 to one on marketing campaigns, so we also need to invest more resources into youth prevention. Kentucky gets more than $500 million in revenues from tobacco, yet spends less than $4 million on prevention.
"And we should ban flavors - they're a key reason kids are drawn to e-cigarettes, and their appeal to kids is why the FDA banned flavored cigarettes a decade ago. The only thing that's changed is that the industry has found a new kind of tobacco product to dress up with kid-friendly flavors."
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About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested nearly $28 million in health policy research, advocacy, and demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth. Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.
Bonnie J. Hackbarth