HELENA – Teen e-cigarette use is at an all-time high in Montana, according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.
Gregory Holzman, the state medical officer, presented the data from the latest youth risk behavior survey to lawmakers at the Capitol Monday.
Dr. Holzman stated Montana ranks above the national average in teen tobacco use.
In 2017 alone, nearly a third of high schoolers used a tobacco or nicotine product; nearly a quarter of those were e-cigarettes.
Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found almost five million middle and high schoolers used some type of nicotine product within the last year.
Nicole Aune, program manager for Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program, said, “E-cigarette use has risen 78 percent nationwide so it’s something we are really concerned about it.”
Aune said there’s a lot of misinformation and confusion about e-cigarettes.
“It’s a new product people don’t always understand new things, so it was an opportunity for our state medical officer, Dr. Holzman, to go through what we do know right now about e-cigarettes, the scientific facts and the data.”
Health experts said nicotine use in any form can harm brain development. Kids who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to smoke regular cigarettes.
The CDC stated the surge in e-cigarettes has erased past progress in reducing youth tobacco use.
The FDA now restricts the sale of flavored nicotine liquids, proven popular with young users.
Dr. Holzman also pointed out that because e-cigarettes are not taxed in Montana and come in many different flavors, like cotton candy, cinnamon, and butter popcorn, they are more appealing to youth and young adults.
“It’s that old saying tobacco companies use, ‘Hook’em young, hook’em for life,’” said Dr. Holzman.
Story by Christine Sullivan, MTN News