As school begins again in Hampshire and Franklin Counties, the Tobacco Free Community Partnership (TFCP) wants to remind parents that the tobacco industry continues to produce new and varied nicotine delivery products, like e-cigarettes and vape pens that are sweet, cheap, and easy for young people to get. These products are not regulated by the FDA and there is no way of knowing how much nicotine or other chemicals they contain. They come in candy and fruity flavors and have become trendy among young people; in fact their use is on the rise among high school students. In Massachusetts, high school students who have ever used e-cigarettes doubled from 5% in 2011 to 10.7% in 2013.
This is important because nicotine is highly addictive and it can produce chemical and structural changes in the developing adolescent brain that may lead to future alcohol and other drug addictions. Flavored tobacco products are considered “starter” products by the FDA, that aid in establishing patterns that can lead to long-term addiction.
New data from the 2011-2013 National Youth Tobacco surveys of middle and high school students show that students who smoke e-cigarettes, but have never smoked conventional cigarettes, are almost twice as likely to have the intention to smoke conventional cigarettes in the next year.
The TFCP for Hampshire and Franklin Counties encourages parents and teachers to look around to see what’s being sold in your community. Talk with kids about nicotine and products like vape pens, e-hookah, and e-cigarettes and ask them what they see. Many municipal Boards of Health have taken strong action to make these products less available to young people in their communities and we encourage concerned adults to support their local Board of Health in this work. With coordinated action between parents, teachers, students, and governing bodies the next generation could be tobacco free. For more information on the Council please visit: www.hampshirecog.org
Featured image courtesy of Lindsay Fox via Flickr under Creative Commons.