OKLAHOMA CITY — Amid growing concern over the dangers of vaping, Tobacco Stops With Me, a program of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), recently began airing educational messaging to warn parents about Big Tobacco’s efforts to market vaping to young people. Tobacco Stops With Me also has resources available to educate parents, youth and community members about the dangers of youth vaping at StopsWithMe.com.
Nationally, 18 people have died from lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use, or vaping, and nearly 1100 cases have been reported from 48 states, including four in Oklahoma.
"Use of vaping and e-cigarette devices by young people has increased at an alarming rate and, tragically, now we are seeing some people lose their lives due to lung injury associated with these products,” said Julie Bisbee, TSET executive director. "These tragedies highlight the fact that vaping products are unregulated and we don’t know all of the harms and risks of their use. It is vital for parents, teachers and others to be informed about this issue and know what to look for to protect the youngest generation from a lifetime of addiction.”
E-cigarettes are the most popular tobacco product among middle and high school students in Oklahoma and across the U.S. In Oklahoma, 16.4% of high school students currently use electronic vapor products. Nationally, the number of high school students using e-cigarettes increased by 78% between 2017 and 2018.
The new Tobacco Stops With Me educational messaging highlights how easy it is to conceal vaping products from parents and teachers and how the tobacco industry uses flavors to entice youth into addiction.
“Vaping is much easier to conceal from parents and teachers than traditional tobacco use,” Bisbee said. “Vaping products may look like pens or flash drives, and the vapor dissipates more quickly than smoke. Sweet, candy-like flavors attract young people, setting them up for a lifetime struggle with nicotine addiction.”
E-cigarettes contain nicotine, just like cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Nicotine is harmful to young brains, which aren’t fully developed until around age 25. Nicotine consumption in kids can cause mood swings, irritability, anxiety and learning difficulties that persist into adulthood. Youth who vape are also seven times more likely than their peers to eventually start smoking cigarettes.