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  • County takes on teen vaping epidemic

    Mar 27, 2019 | Read More News
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    nicotine can harm brain growtnPima County health and education officials on March 27 announced a new educational campaign aimed at preventing teens from taking up vaping or e-cigarette use. 

    The 2018 Arizona Youth Survey found that nearly 47 percent of Pima County high school seniors have tried an e-cigarette or vaping device at least once. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report in February 2019 which found that teens today are consuming nicotine at nearly the same rate as teens 30 years ago, reversing a long-standing trend that saw nicotine use drop dramatically in the age group.

    The new Pima County campaign, titled “The REAL DEAL on Vaping”, focuses on informing teens about what is in most e-cigarette products, to stop using them if they have already started, or to not try them if have not started.

    The number one influence on children and youth to not start smoking is when their parent(s) or other caring adult express a clear expectation that their child will not take up the habit. This has helped curb the rate of teen smoking traditional cigarettes, but public knowledge of what is in vapes is lacking. 

    “The rapid up-take of vaping products by teens and youth who have not smoked combustible cigarettes has disrupted public health efforts to create a tobacco-free generation by 2035,” according to Marcy Flanagan, Director of the Pima County  Health Department. “Vapes are appealing to young people with their bright packaging, candy-like flavors, and sleek designs.”  

    Vaping has become an epidemic in Pima County schools, one that officials say needs to be addressed cohesively by all adults working with young people. In the past year alone, vaping among high school students increased 78%. The devices are small and discreet, coming in a variety of shapes that do not look or smell like more familiar tobacco products. Students are using the devices all over school campuses, from bathrooms to hallways to playgrounds and even in classrooms. Many students do not fully understand the dangers of vaping – specifically that most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, the same highly addictive drug that is in cigarettes, or what nicotine can do to damage brain development.

    “We need to unite as a county to protect our children and educate our community,” said Pima County School Superintendent Dustin Williams. “Parents and teachers need to understand what vapes look like to best protect the next generation from becoming hooked on nicotine.”

    The Pima County Health Department has launched a new resource webpage where parents, teachers, pediatricians, and students themselves can get information about the health risks of vaping as a teen.

    The new webpage can be found here.