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On November 19, the Great American Smokeout will mark 40 years of encouraging tobacco users to quit and for those who don’t use tobacco, to never start. Although the event began with a focus on cigarettes and traditional tobacco products, the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy (the Center) and Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health are also using it to raise awareness of the dangers of e-cigarettes.
Many tobacco companies tout e-cigarettes as a cessation tool for smokers trying to quit, but that’s not how they work. Research has shown that additives in e-cigarettes enhance the effects of nicotine and increase cravings for both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes. And, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that high school students who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes.
“This is troubling because tobacco companies create fruit and candy-flavored e-cigarettes to entice youth who might not otherwise try traditional cigarettes, to try their e-cigarettes,” said Jeanne Prom, executive director of the Center. “What’s worse is that it appears to be working.”
A newly published survey of North Dakota high school students shows a substantial drop in cigarette use – from 19 percent in 2013 to 11.7 percent in 2015 - but also shows that e-cigarette use among youth is at an alarming rate of 22.3 percent among high school students.
The findings are part of the newest Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which was begun in 1990 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor potential causes of health and social problems. For the first time, in 2015, students were asked if they used e-cigarettes. The survey is given in the spring of odd-numbered years to students in grades seven through 12.
Another recent report from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that nicotine harms the developing brain of youth. According to Prom, many e-cigarettes contain nicotine and nicotine exposure at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction and lead to sustained tobacco use.
“The Great American Smokeout is an important event because it encourages people to live a tobacco-free lifestyle that discourages the use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products,” said Jordyn Schaefbauer with Bismarck Burleigh Public Health. “It’s also a great opportunity to stress the importance of tobacco prevention so our youth don’t become victims of tobacco-related diseases.”
To learn more about tobacco prevention contact Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health at 701-355-1595 or visit www.breathend.com.