The Montana Department of Health and Human Services has begun a campaign to educate Montanans about the dangers of electronic cigarettes, especially in teenagers.
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An e-cigarette is made up of several components, most of which are not regulated by the FDA. In essence, manufacturers can put in a plethora of chemicals in addition to addictive nicotine. There have been some studies to show evidence of formaldehyde in the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes. In May 2016, the FDA issued new regulations over vape pens, refillable vaporizers and e-juices. The new rules made it illegal to sell the products to minors, banned free samples and required warning labels. However, these rules fall short of banning flavors that appeal to children such as root beer float and cotton candy. Traditional cigarettes are banned from using flavors other than menthol. Additionally, there are no rules around advertising for e-cigarettes.
About 60 percent of Montana’s 2015 high school seniors reported having tried e-cigarettes, with 36 percent reporting using the product within 30 days of taking 2015 Montana Youth Risk Behavior Survey. This is especially troubling as teenage brains are still developing and creating coping mechanisms. When teens use these products, they are more susceptible to becoming addicted. More than 80% of long term smokers start before the age of 18.
On Wednesday May 17th, several parents and teachers joined The Montana Tobacco Use and Prevention Program specialists and Dr. Kathy Rogers in the cafeteria at Sentinel high school in Missoula. These public health experts discussed the dangers of these products and the tactics that tobacco companies are using to hook children.