MICHIGAN CITY — In 2015, about 3 million middle and high-schoolers used e-cigarettes. And between 2011 and 2015, e-cigarette usage increased 900 percent among high-schoolers.
That was some of the information presented May 21 during a presentation of "Come for the Flavor, Stay for the Nicotine," an event presented by Healthy Communities of La Porte County and La Porte County Drug Free Partnership at Michigan City Public Library.
There, Jennifer Olson, executive director of Healthy Communities of La Porte County, presented a brief power point that discussed how tobacco and nicotine products are marketed in a way that is designed to appeal to young people.
Panel speakers: Christina Rosenbaum (Slicer Support Services for LPHS), Jake Mitchell (Junior at NPHS), and Lisa Pierzakowski (Center Township Trustee) discussed the overwhelming rate of LaPorte County's youth and teen usage of e-cigarettes and other non-combustible tobacco products. According to the Center for Disease Control, smoking leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body, with 15.1 percent of all adults (36.5 million people), including 16.7 percent of males and 13.6 percent of females, being cigarette smokers in 2015. In the United States in 2015, about 3 million middle and high schoolers used e-cigarettes. This number dropped to about 2.2 million in 2016, although 3.9 million youth were still using tobacco products that same year.
The United States Surgeon General's 2016 report said usage of e-cigarettes increased 900 percent from 2011 to 2015, and that "e-cigarette use poses a significant-and avoidable-health risk to young people in the United States." According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the concern is that e-cigarettes represent a gateway to use of traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Prior to 2016, e-cigarettes were unregulated by the Federal Drug Administration. This changed with a new rule that expanded the FDA's authority. However, several public health advocacy groups, including the Truth Initiative and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, filed a law suit against the FDA in March of this year, challenging the agency's decision to delay full regulation of e-cigarettes and similar products until 2022.
This Community Conversation event was open to the public; community members, parents, La Porte County Personnel, and staff from Franciscan Alliance attended the event.