Montana DPHHS Concerned about Increased Teen E-Cigarette Use
After the state of Michigan took the step of banning the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products, many other states and municipalities are taking a closer look at the impact of the products on the health of users, especially young people.
The State of Montana has not banned the use or sale of flavored e-cigarettes or vaping products, however, the Montana Department of Health and Human Services own Medical Officer, Dr. Greg Holzman has been conferring with his colleagues at the federal level.
“At this time, while we are following several cases throughout the state, we do not have any confirmed cases as of yet,” said. Dr. Holzman. “Around the country, there was a third death reported just today and many more cases have been brought forward I believe, in 33 states, regarding this association with vaping and serious respiratory illnesses up to and including death.”
Dr. Holzman said the effort to keep young people away from vaping products has one goal.
“These baseline things that we’ve been working on and continuing to address are so that we don’t have a whole new population of people addicted to nicotine,” he said. “As we know, young kids who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to go on to using combustible cigarettes.”
Program Manager with the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program, Nicole Aune, said on Friday that the use of e-cigarettes among young people has increased over the past two years.
“E-cigarette use among Montana high school students has increased since 2017,” said Aune. “We just received new data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey showing that current use of e-cigarettes increased from 23 percent to 30 percent in 2019. E-cigarettes remain the most commonly used tobacco products among our high school students in Montana, and we’ve been encouraging groups in Montana communities to both prevent youth from starting to use these products and also help youth quit using them.”
Aune said a new phone help line has been established for this purpose.
“We recently launched a ‘Quit Line’ that’s specific to youth, called My Life My Quit and it actually connects youth with live coaches via text and chatting, and we’ve never had that before in the state of Montana,” she said. “We know that most e-cigarettes contain nicotine and nicotine is highly addictive, especially with these new products like Juul and Sua and they deliver nicotine at high levels and are addicting a whole new generation to these products.”
Aune said stores and other establishments can help keep the products away from young people.
“They can limit exposure to e-cigarette aerosol such as encouraging communities to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in indoor public places, encouraging tobacco retailers to place e-cigarettes behind the counter and out of sight of youth and limiting the sale of flavored products because we know that flavored products can hook kids, and that e-cigarettes can come in over 15,500 different flavors,” she said.
The legal age for use and sale of e-cigarettes in Montana is 18.
Those who advocate for vaping rights are also asking for reasonable controls.