High school student use of nicotine products has risen dramatically in the past 2 years and over 40 percent of students feel there is no harm in using an e-cigarette or vaping device.
On Sept.12, the Minnesota Department of Health issued a health warning on nicotine and e-cigarettes. Youth e-cigarette use has risen dramatically in Minnesota over the past three years. According to MDH, statewide there has been an almost 50 percent increase in high school students use of e-cigarettes since 2014.
“Given the alarming spike in e-cigarette use among Minnesota youth, we need a full-court press to prevent another generation from getting hooked on nicotine,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm stated in a press release. “We need to do everything we can to address this escalating risk of addiction for youth, but we can’t do this alone. This work requires the participation of parents, educators, healthcare providers, retailers and policymakers.”
In May of 2018, both Mora and Ogilvie school districts participated in an Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug survey conducted by the Substance Abuse Coalition of Kanabec County. The survey asked students in grades eight, nine and 11 about their past 30-day substance use, the perception of physical harm related to substance use, parent disapproval of substance use and their friends’ perception of substance use.
In the past 30 days, 30.3 percent of the students reported using an e-cigarette or vaping device. This is a significant increase from two years ago when data collected in 2016 Minnesota Student Survey indicated the 30-day use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices was 10.3 percent.
Health officials find this concerning because the nicotine in e-cigarettes is highly addictive and can harm the developing brain of an adolescent.
MDH cites studies that youth exposed to nicotine are at higher risk for addiction than are adults because youth brains are still forming and making permanent connections. Popular e-cigarettes like JUUL have used new technologies that utilize nicotine salts that are absorbed into the body more effectively. JUUL pods, according to the manufacturer, contain as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes. They are also easily hidden, have limited odor, and come in candy-like flavors that appeal to youth.
When asked about the harm related to using an e-cigarette or vaping products 43 percent of students felt there was little to no risk involved when using an e-cigarette or vaping device.
“These misconceptions and increase in 30-day use reinforce the need to increase awareness and education around the dangers of nicotine use in our youth population,” said Kanabec County health promotions coordinator Patti Miller.
“Talk to your children about the harmful effects of nicotine and their developing brain,” she encouraged. “They say knowledge is power. Let the power lead to prevention.”