Today U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released a new report highlighting health concerns about e-cigarette use by young people. An increasing number of youth in Minnesota use e-cigarettes, and although lawmakers have taken some steps to protect them from potential harms, more action is necessary.
“This report from the Surgeon General highlights what we have already seen in Minnesota: Young people are using e-cigarettes, despite potential health risks,” said Andrea Mowery, Vice President at ClearWay Minnesota. “There is no safe level of nicotine for the adolescent brain, and research shows that young people who start using e-cigarettes are more likely to experiment with other tobacco products, like cigarettes.”
The Surgeon General’s report, “E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults,” shows that:
- One in six high-school students across the country used an e-cigarette in the last month;
- Nicotine is unsafe for youth and young adults, and the use of it can lead to addiction and disruption of attention and learning; and
- Secondhand aerosol from e-cigarettes contains harmful chemicals.
Recently, the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey found that 17 percent of 11th graders use e-cigarettes – more than double the rate of conventional cigarette use.
“Minnesota has led the country in enacting youth protections,” Mowery said. “But the tobacco industry markets their products to the next generation with advertising and kid-friendly flavors. Lawmakers should take further steps to protect our kids from a lifetime of addiction to tobacco.”
Minnesota was one of the first states to make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors, and half of the state’s population is protected by indoor air laws that include e-cigarettes. The tobacco industry has a long history of marketing to kids, and each of the major tobacco companies has their own a line of e-cigarettes. Lawmakers can:
- Maintain high prices on e-cigarettes, as well as on other tobacco products;
- Add e-cigarettes to smoke-free policies;
- Restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarettes to adult-only stores; and
- Restrict sales of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products to those 21 years and older.