Ask a teenager or middle school student if they vape and there is a good chance the answer is yes. In 2017, 1 in 4 (25.5 percent) public high school and 1 in 6 (15.7 percent) public middle school students reported currently using electronic smoking devices (ESD)1, also known as vapes or e-cigarettes. Use is even higher at the county level with Hawai‘i and Maui county public high school students reporting in 2017 current ESD use above 30 percent.1
Vaping among our keiki is rising at an alarming rate, increasingly putting Hawai‘i youth at risk of becoming addicted to nicotine.
E-cigarettes are a variety of devices that create an aerosol by using a battery to heat liquid containing nicotine, flavoring and other additives such as nickel, copper, formaldehyde, rocket fuel and lead. While these chemicals are known to cause severe health problems, the most troubling fact is that consumers don’t know the long-term effect of using electronic smoking devices. A recent report on the public health consequence of e-cigarettes suggests that, due to the variety of e-cigarette devices available, consumers can’t determine differences between products and their relative harms.3
Despite the laws and regulations already in place, a whopping 94 percent of young adults and children have successfully purchased e-cigarettes online.4 Tobacco companies are forever searching for the next “replacement smoker,” and vapes are the mechanism of nicotine addiction for the next generation.
What makes these e-cigs so addicting and appealing to youth? Use of e-cigs by friends and family, availability of flavors, and the belief that e-cigarettes are less harmful than other forms of tobacco, such as cigarettes.2 In fact, 60 percent of Hawai‘i teens believe that occasional use of an e-cigarette does little to no harm to their health.3
As vaping gains popularity among high school students in Hawai‘i, the use of combustible or traditional cigarettes has declined, yet both groups suffer with nicotine addiction. We can’t stand by and watch as electronic smoking devices create a new generation of nicotine addicts.
The Hawai‘i Tobacco Quitline Youth Program is an evidence-based telephone counseling program that is designed to help teens ages 13-17 quit smoking and vaping permanently. The program utilizes experienced tobacco cessation specialists (Youth Program Quitline Coaches) to make proactive outbound calls to provide counseling, support and plans to aid the process of becoming nicotine free. Program participants also receive age‐appropriate educational materials and, for questions and additional support, have unlimited access to the toll‐free support line. A web-only Youth Program is also available.
For help in quitting tobacco use or vaping and nicotine addiction in youth visit https://hawaiiquitline.org/how-it-works/youth-program.
To learn more about the dangers of vaping visit http://808novape.org
1 Hawai‘i State Department of Health, Hawai‘i School Health Survey: Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 1997-2017
2 Hawaii State Department of Health. Tobacco control Strategic Plan 2016-2020. Honolulu, HI; Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division, Tobacco Prevention and Education Program. 2016