Eliminating Tobacco Use in WA Kids

Group of teenagers smilling, some on piggyback

Teens are using e-cigarettes at increasingly alarming rate, addicting a new generation of tobacco users. 1 in 5 high school age kids now report that they vape, and many falsely believe that e-cigarettes are a safer product. In truth, they can deliver much higher concentrations of addictive nicotine than traditional cigarettes.

Research published by the American Heart Association shows how significant a role flavors play in youth initiation and continued use of all tobacco products. Nearly a third of respondents indicated flavors in e-cigarettes as a major reason they started vaping, with young adults nearly twice as likely as older adults to identify flavors as the major reason they took up e-cigarette use.

Did You Know?

  • An e-cigarette refill pod has the same amount of nicotine as at least a pack of 20 cigarettes.
  • In 2018, e-cigarette use nearly doubled in high school students.
  • More than 1 in 4 high school students use e-cigarettes, according to the 2019 National Youth tobacco survey.
  • According to a study(link opens in new window) published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the large majority of youth e-cigarette users use flavored e-cigarettes, “with fruit, menthol or mint, and candy, desserts, or other sweets being the most commonly reported flavors.” Over the last four years, mint and menthol went from among the least popular to among the most popular e-cigarette flavors among high school students.

Making An Impact

The American Heart Association is working with partner organizations to prevent youth access to tobacco and preventing marketing to kids.

Tobacco 21

Starting January 1, 2020, the legal age to sell tobacco products in Washington, including e-cigarettes, goes up to 21.   This policy was the result of years of hard work by stakeholders, state leadership and plenty of support from Washingtonians across the state. This policy will do a lot to restrict youth access to tobacco products.

Restricting Flavors in Tobacco

Flavors target kids and has made e-cigarettes very appealing to teens and young adults. An Executive Order from Governor Jay Inslee has temporarily issued a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol. This is a great step.  During the 2020 Legislature, the American Heart Association will be pushing for policy to permanently eliminating the sale of all flavored tobacco products, to include both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes. 

Kids Heart Challenge

Our school program educating kids about healthy lifestyles now includes educational resources that inform students about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

How You Can Help

Join our You’re the Cure network.  If you are a parent, educator or a citizen concerned about the vaping epidemic in youth, join our grassroots network as volunteer making our voice heard with state legislators. You can also email us at puget.sound@heart.org