New CDC data: 6.2 million young people using tobacco; 85% using e-cigs

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) – New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 85 percent of students who use tobacco products are using e-cigarettes.

The reports says of the 6.2 million middle and high school students using the products, 5.3 million are using vapes.

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“The youth vaping epidemic continues to threaten the immediate and long-term health of adolescents and teens in this country by exposing them to nicotine and a host of other toxins that are known to damage their developing brains and bodies,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Chandler added the tobacco industry spends much more on marketing compared to public health, making its advantage even clearer.

“The tobacco industry outspends public health more than 73 to one on marketing campaigns, so we also need to invest more resources into youth prevention. Kentucky gets more than $500 million in revenues from tobacco, yet spends less than $4 million on prevention.”

Chandler says there are several policy options proven to work.

“We need to tax vapes, at least the same amount as cigarettes. We need to raise the age for buying tobacco from 18 to 21, and assess stiff penalties on retailers that sell to underage buyers…and we should ban flavors – they’re a key reason kids are drawn to e-cigarettes, and their appeal to kids is why the FDA banned flavored cigarettes a decade ago. The only thing that’s changed is that the industry has found a new kind of tobacco product to dress up with kid-friendly flavors,” Chandler said.