Tobacco and E-Cigarettes
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States. Smoking leads to cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Disparities in tobacco use remain across groups defined by educational level, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity. Other populations impacted include the LGBTQ+ community and people with disabilities.
Access to affordable cessation resources and smokefree environments encourage and help those who want to quit. Restricting access, promoting anti-tobacco programs and strong policies all support individuals from ever starting.
Over the past four years, the percentage of students who report using cigarettes in the past 30 days has been declining.
E-Cigarettes and Vaping
While Washington County has seen a decrease in cigarette use among youth, there has been a steady increase in the use of e-cigarettes or vaping. “Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device.” (Center on Addiction, 2018). The aerosol cartridges used in e-cigarettes can contain a variety of substances, including water vapor, scented oils, nicotine, marijuana and illicit drugs.
Youth are particularly vulnerable to initiation and long-term use of these products due to nicotine exposure. Nicotine has an adverse effect on adolescent brain development, including learning, memory and attention. Nicotine is also linked to behavior problems, mental illness and addiction to other substances later in life.
In 2016, the OSWS added questions about e-cigarettes and vaping for 11th graders only. The proportion of Washington County 11th graders who said they used e-cigarettes (vaping) rose over 4 percentage points from 2016 (11.7%) to 2018 (15.8%), a 26% increase in past 30-day vaping.