Youth Vaping a ‘Public Health Crisis’ In Jefferson County

LAKEWOOD, CO – Colorado young people are vaping nicotine at twice the national average, a new study shows, and almost four-times as many Colorado students self-report to vaping than to smoking cigarettes.

The Jefferson County Public Health Department has announced a campaign to address youth vaping and voted to declare youth vaping a “public health crisis in Jefferson County.”

“Though tremendous gains have been made to reduce tobacco use in our communities, it remains the single greatest cause of preventable death and disease across our state and the nation,” a statement from the JeffCo health department said.

Healthy Kids Colorado Survey data shows 1 in 3 adolescents report using some form of tobacco/nicotine within the past month. While less than 10 percent smoke cigarettes, vaping or using e-cigarettes surged to 27 percent.

“Vaping has replaced cigarettes as a way for underaged youth to use nicotine,” said Larry Wolk, former executive director and chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in July. “Too many of our young people don’t realize the health risks involved.”

The statewide school survey showed 87 percent of Colorado high school students think cigarette smoking is risky, but only 50 percent think those risks apply to vaping nicotine.

But nicotine has its own risks, according to the Colorado Dept. of Public Health:

More than 90 percent of vaping products, when tested, were found to contain nicotine. Nicotine has a negative effect on adolescent brain development, causing lasting cognitive and behavioral impairments, including effects on working memory and attention. Studies have shown that vape products can contain dangerous toxins, including heavy metals and chemicals known to cause cancer and other diseases.

Studies also show youngsters who develop a vaping habit, often move on to smoke cigarettes. A study of 12th-grade students who had never smoked a cigarette found those who reported recent vaping were nearly five times (4.78 times) more likely to take up smoking one year later, the CDPHE reported.

JeffCo joins the state board in a public education campaign to help parents and other trusted adults, such as teachers, coaches and counselors, talk to youth about vaping.

You can find free materials, including tips on starting the conversation and a Vaping 101 fact sheet. on the site: TobaccoFreeCo.org

“Research has shown us that young people benefit from conversations with their parents and other trusted adults,” said Wolk in July. “Fact-based conversations can be very productive, and actually change teens’ minds about the risks of vaping.”

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