Friday, November 14, 2014
Decline in cigarette smoking
This decline in cigarette smoking, the steepest ever recorded by the Minnesota youth survey, follows extensive efforts to curb cigarette smoking including a 2013 tobacco tax, bans on indoor smoking, and tighter restrictions on youth access to tobacco products.
Minnesota also saw declines between 2011 and 2014 in the use of chewing tobacco and cigars, according to the survey.
For the first time, the survey also asked about e-cigarette use and found that 12.9 percent of high school students used or tried an electronic cigarette in the past 30 days. The survey found that 28 percent of high school students reported ever having tried an e-cigarette.
"These new findings indicate that our statewide efforts to reduce and prevent conventional tobacco use among Minnesota children are working," said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. "At the same time, we are seeing a wild-west approach toward e-cigarettes, which allows tobacco companies unlimited marketing access to young men and women. This has led to increasing numbers of Minnesota high school and middle school students using e-cigarettes."
Many young people are being exposed to nicotine, which is highly addictive, through e-cigarettes. An estimated 85,900 Minnesota public school students in grades 6-12 have tried e-cigarettes, and 38,400 reported using them in the past 30 days.
Nicotine is known to harm adolescent brain development. Nearly one-fourth of high school students who have tried an e-cigarette have never tried another tobacco product.
Minnesota high school students are exposed to a wide range of e-cigarette marketing tactics previously used to sell cigarettes. More than half of high school students, 57 percent, saw e-cigarette ads on TV in the past 30 days. About half, 48 percent, saw ads in convenience stores. Students also saw e-cigarettes in ads on the Internet, magazines and billboards, and in the hands of actors in movies or on TV. Retailers have also started selling candy flavored e-cigarette products.
E-cigarettes are having an impact in high schools that though the percent of high school students using any of the conventional tobacco products in the past 30 days fell from 25.8 percent in 2011 to 19.3 percent in 2014, the overall rate of tobacco use including e-cigarettes stayed about the same at 24.2 percent.
E-cigarettes are often cheap to buy, can be purchased on the Internet, and are available in an array of fruit and candy flavors. E-cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA and the overall health risks are unknown. The 2014 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey included many questions about new products, especially electronic cigarettes, as well as traditional conventional tobacco products.
Public schools and classrooms across the state were selected at random and invited to participate. Overall, 4,243 students in grades 6 through 12 took the survey.
Minnesota youth also continued to use menthol cigarettes. Menthol masks the harshness and irritation that new smokers may feel. Nearly half of high school smokers (44.3 percent) usually smoke menthols. In contrast, only 22.0 percent of Minnesota adult smokers usually smoke menthols.
The vaping craze is taking off
Suddenly, they're everywhere. You see electronic cigarettes on sale in every convenience store and tiny vapor shops in every strip mall.
E-cigarettes — a term that includes everything from cheap disposable "vape pens" to elaborate vaporizers costing hundreds of dollars — are a booming business. Sales surpassed $1 billion annually last year, as dominant tobacco companies like Reynolds American get into the market.
But are electronic cigarettes and vaporizing truly a way to quit smoking? Is it expensive? Can you vape in places where you can't smoke, as some manufacturers have claimed? Here's what's behind the smoke.
Q: What's vaping, and how is it different from smoking?
A: Smoking involves igniting tobacco, or similar dried plant material, and inhaling the smoke that's produced. When "vaping," you warm a flavored liquid in a device heated by a battery and breathe in the mist that's created. It mimics the experience of smoking, without the lingering smell or density of smoke.
Q: So what exactly am I inhaling when I vape?
A: Vaping liquids — referred to as juice, e-juice or e-liquid — usually are propylene glycol- or vegetable glycerin-based. Juice ranges widely in price. The Vapor Club, for example, offers about 250 e-liquid flavors in 15 ml or 30 ml bottles, with prices ranging from less than $10 to about $40 for luxury brands. Water and flavors are added, trending toward sweet. Juice flavors often mimic desserts, cereals and drinks like mojitos and pumpkin lattes — which vaping critics say tempts teenagers and young adults.
Q: Can I get addicted to vaping?
A: Opinions vary. Unlike cigarettes, vapers have some control over how much nicotine they consume. Juice is sold with different liquid nicotine concentrations, ranging from 0 to 24 milligrams per milliliter. At this point, there are no federal regulations requiring labels listing exactly what's in your mix. Florida health officials say it's unknown whether using e-cigarettes, which mimics smoking, leads young people to tobacco products.
Q: So is vaping safer than cigarettes?
A: Depends on whom you ask. Vapor supply manufacturers and retailers promote their products as a healthy alternative to cigarettes, saying you can gradually reduce the nicotine. Some vaping fans insist it helped them kick the habit.
Since 2011, the National Poison Data System has received more than 3,000 reports about people, many of them young children, being exposed to liquid nicotine from electronic cigarettes. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, is co-sponsoring a bill that would require such products to have child-resistant packaging.
Q: Can only certain businesses sell vaping products?
A: E-cigarettes are available in many of the same places where you can buy regular cigarettes. You can get cigarette-like "vape pens" for less than $10 at convenience stores and gas stations, as well as inexpensive "starter kits" (without liquid) for about $30. More sophisticated, and durable, vaping "mods" — including a battery case, rechargeable battery, liquid tank, heating system and mouthpiece — are put together and sold at vaping retail outlets, and can run for hundreds of dollars.