Emerging tobacco products gaining popularity among youth
Increases in e-cigarette and hookah use show need for increased monitoring and prevention
Though they are illegal for kids under 18 to purchase, emerging tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and hookah cigarettes are quickly gaining popularity among middle- and high-school students, according to a report in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Local schools concur. Chris Powell, Mammoth High School interim principal, reports that several students have been found to be using these products on campus. Because they resemble fancy pens and do not burn, it is a challenge to monitor. School administration reports that some schools are burdened with the problem to an even greater extent.
E Cigarettes have flavors, nicotine and other chemicals suspended in glycerin and propylene glycol. The cigarette emits vapor in much the same way as an asthma inhaler. According to UCSF, even though it is claimed to assist in tobacco cessation, research studies show that the quit rate from tobacco is no greater than for nicotine patches or gum.
In recent presentations to middle and high school parent organizations, Nancy Mahannah, of the Mono County Health Department noted that marketing of these devices resembles ads for cigarettes from the 1950’s – popularity, beauty, social acceptance, less harm. Both Eastern Sierra Unified and Mammoth School Districts have incorporated the products into their tobacco policy, stating that the devices will be considered drug delivery devices when found on campus.
Electronic cigarettes, hookahs, cigars and certain other new types of tobacco products are not currently subject to FDA regulation, though that is in the plan. Mono and Inyo County Health Officer, Rick Johnson, is concerned about tobacco use increasing among youth, “We have worked for 20 years and our smoking rates have declined, lung cancer and heart disease have declined. How instead of smoking, it is ‘vaping’. The tobacco industry is like an amoeba, it keeps morphing its deadly products for financial gain.”
Health Promotion Division Manager