Vaping increasing among CO teenagers

Teenagers in Co are increasingly using vapes. Photo: Isaiah Mancha · The Sentry

New health proposals address e-cigarette use
Teenagers in CO are increasingly using vapes.
Photo: Isaiah Mancha · The Sentry

On Dec. 8, 2018 the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released an official statement and string of fact sheets in an effort to bring national awareness to a new generation of tobacco use: vaping. E-Cigarettes, Vape Mods, E-Hookahs, and JUUL Pods all have gained recent traction in American consumption habits since 2015.

According to a new national study, Colorado ranks number one out of 37 surveyed states for vape usage. Most concerning, the teen population of Colorado holds most of this consumption.

While vaping is a relatively new phenomenon and researchers are still studying potential health hazards, scientists at the University of Kansas recently presented their findings that people who smoke e-cigarettes are more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke.

With the increasing popularity of electronic cigarettes and e-tobacco related products, teen audiences seem to be in trend for the market in Colorado. In light of the CDC’s findings on Colorado’s new vaping epidemic, this new trend has prompted the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to begin the process of sponsoring stricter guidelines and regulations to product distribution and legal sale in Colorado.

According to the CDPHE’s latest study, in 2017 only 7 percent of high school students admitted to smoking cigarettes, while 27 percent admitted being e-cigarette/vape users. The issue is likely to increasingly affect college campuses as well, as the CDC in 2016 reported that 16 percent of college-aged students nationwide used vapes.

Former Gov. Hickenlooper started leading the efforts for this new system of regulation, concerned that, “With teenagers, this is a seed that is getting planted and has the potential to lead to lifelong addictions to not just vaping, but to cigarettes.”

Hickenlooper’s first executive order draft was made in November 2018, ordering the CDPHE to issue official warnings on the usage of e-tobacco/electronic nicotine products and against its usage for anyone under the age of 18. The latest order also included a recommendation that the legal product-purchase age for e-cigarette products be raised from 18 to 21 in 2019.

The Auraria Campus only allows students to smoke tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in one of nine designated smoking areas.

Meanwhile, the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus and Colorado State University both adopted tobacco-free policies in 2018. CSU specifically said that their new policy was made in part to comply with the Governor’s 2018 executive order. The University of Colorado Boulder has also had a campus-wide smoking ban since 2015.

Fearing for an environment that is almost identical to underage smoking, drinking, and other illegal substance uses for minors, companies such as JUUL have already adhered to the Colorado commonwealth’s concerns.

JUUL Communications Manager, Ted Kwong, shares Hickenlooper’s concern, stating, “We also support reasonable regulation to restrict advertising and naming of inappropriate flavors such as ‘cotton candy’ and ‘gummy bear’ that are directed at children.”

With much still clouding this issue, the CDC, CDPHE, Colorado legislators, and e-tobacco/vape companies alike have a new major resolution for 2019: keep vape out of schools.

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