SURVEY: Colorado teen smoking and vaping down since 2019

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Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 10:47 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A survey done by Healthy Kids Colorado shows a “promising trend” when it comes to youth and the use of commercial tobacco products. The results from the survey were released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in June. The survey included both high school and middle school students.

“The latest data is encouraging,” said Natalya Versheure, Tobacco Program Manager at CDPHE, “but there’s still more work to do. We recommend that parents, schools, and communities continue to encourage youth to make healthy choices and reinforce tobacco-free habits.”

For the first time since 2015, officials say e-cigarette use among high school students has significantly decreased. Currently the number sits at 16%, which is down from 26% in 2019. The percentage of high school students who currently use e-cigarettes is also down (sitting at 3%, down from 6%), and the current use of any tobacco product has also decreased (17%, down from 29%).

Data shows students are understanding the smoking and vaping more and there has been an increase in the percentage of students who believe parents and adults in their neighborhood think youth smoking and vaping is wrong.

The survey also found the percent of students who vape because tobacco vapor products are cheaper than other tobacco products decreased in 2019, as did the percent of students who believe it would be easy to get cigarettes or vapor products if they wanted them.

In a press release officials say, “A number of policy changes in the past two years may have had an influence on these numbers, including Proposition EE, which created a tax on vapor tobacco products and e-cigarettes starting Jan. 1, 2021. In addition, the Tobacco 21 law increased the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21, and more than 36 local ordinances in Colorado communities now require retailers who sell tobacco products to obtain a license”.

While these are positive trends, the latest Healthy Kids Colorado Survey data says there are still some areas of concern. The percent of students who use vape products because they are flavored increased to 23%. The data also suggest that youth are experimenting with vapor products at a very young age. The percentage of high schoolers who tried vape products before the age of 13 significantly increased, from 13% in 2019 to 22% in 2021. Use among middle school students remained steady.

For more information on the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, click here.

CDPHE has several programs aimed to help Colorado youth quit tobacco. Kids between the age of 12 and 18 can get free, confidential support to quit smoking or vaping by texting “Start My Quit” to 36072 or click here for more information. Those who are looking to support someone who is trying to quit using tobacco can find tips and more information here.

“Our goal is to ensure that every young person in Colorado can live their healthiest life,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, Executive Director, CDPHE. “We are encouraged that youth tobacco use is on the decline. We will continue our prevention programming to assure that young people who use tobacco have access to the resources and support that can help them quit, and to prevent youth who do not use tobacco from starting.”

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