While the use of traditional cigarettes and tobacco products in Hawaii has remained steady over the last several years, we have seen a huge increase in youth usage of electronic cigarettes and vape products. In fact, over 25% of Hawaii high school students have reported using these products (with higher rates on neighbor islands). This trend is not just alarming, it is potentially deadly. Recently there have been over 500 cases of lung related health problems that have been linked to using e-cigarettes. Sadly one of those cases was in Hawaii.
hero_image_alt_text===A variety of e-cigarette products on a dark surface
thumbnail_alt_text===A variety of e-cigarette products on a dark surface
We have seen the long-term health impacts that traditional tobacco use has caused but we are just now beginning to understand as more and more research is being done, the increasingly frightening and unexpected health impacts of vape/e-cigarette use. That is why we are fighting to ensure all tobacco and nicotine products are included in our efforts to prevent use and to help current tobacco users (both cigarettes and e-cigarettes) quit.
E-cigarette companies are targeting our children with enticing flavors like bubble gum, slurpee, gummy bear, Captain Crunch. President Trump recently announced he is considering a nationwide ban on flavored tobacco but in case it does not happen, or proposed federal policies are weakened through tobacco industry lobbying, we must continue our work at the state level to protect our children. In 2019 the American Heart Association supported state legislation that would have banned these enticing flavored tobacco products. While the bill did not pass, we have not given up. During the 2020 session we along with our health partners will try again.
As we continue to see these companies target our kids, we must stay aware of how, when, and where they are using them as well. Electronic cigarettes are incredibly easy to hide, and don’t have the same odor as traditional cigarettes, so they can be used during school class or at home without being noticed by teachers or parents. As we leave summer and get back into the swing of school and routine, we ask for your help to prevent tobacco industry marketing of electronic cigarettes to our youths and support our efforts to make sure we keep these deadly devices out of kids hands.