In August, the Alaskan Division of Epidemiology reported that e-cig use among adults quadrupled and now it has been reported that more Alaskan teens are using e-cigs than traditional cigarettes. Between 2010 and 2013, e-cig use in youth tripled equating to a quarter million youth using these devices. These devices contain nicotine and can lead to Alaskan youth becoming long-term nicotine addicts.
The American Heart Association and our coalition partners at Smoke-Free Alaska believe this large spike in e-cigarette use by Alaska teens highlights the importance of passing the statewide smoke-free workplace law, which includes e-cigarettes, currently being considered by the Alaska Legislature.
“Increased use of electronic cigarettes by Alaska adults and youth is not an accident. The tobacco industry is promoting e-cigarettes to kids and young adults and casting doubt about negative health effects of use and exposure to harmful particles/chemicals that are emitted from e-cigs,” said Marge Stoneking, Executive Director at the American Lung Association in Alaska.
Studies have shown that the use of e-cigarettes can cause short-term lung changes and irritations, while the long-term health effects are unknown. Preliminary studies indicate non-users can be exposed to the same potentially harmful chemicals as users, including nicotine, ultrafine particles and volatile organic compounds.
The Alaska Smoke-Free Indoor Workplace bill, introduced last session as SB1 by Senator Peter Micciche, would prohibit smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes, in all indoor workplaces, businesses and public spaces. Individuals who choose to smoke will simply have to “take it outside” to protect others from the effects of secondhand smoke and e-cigarette aerosol.
There is enough evidence regarding the health risks of these products to include e-cigarettes in laws that protect non-users from indoor secondhand exposure particularly in family friendly environments like diners and movie theaters. Discouraging Alaska youth from believing e-cigarettes to be safe and “cool” is a strong secondary reason to make sure that the Alaska Smoke-Free Indoor Workplace law includes them. Kids emulate adults and kids who grow up in smoke-free communities are less likely to smoke.
If you want to get involved, please visit smokefreealaska.com or take a few moments to sign our petition.