AUGUSTA – The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention released new data for e-cigarette use among high school students in Maine.
New numbers from the Maine CDC showed the use of e-cigarettes among high school students in the last two years has almost doubled.
“We’ve gone below average from nearly 15-some percent to 29 percent of our high school-aged kids smoking and vaping with these electronic products,” said Chace Joe Jackson, state government relations director for the Maine American Heart Association.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared a vaping health crisis nationwide. The agency confirmed that as of Dec. 10 of this year, 2,409 people were hospitalized from lung injury associated vaping. Of those patients, 16 percent were under 18 years old.
“Bubblegum, cherry, blueberry electronic smoke products — these are clearly, clearly designed by the big tobacco companies to target children,” Jackson said.
“More than 90 percent of youth who’ve been surveyed we’ve asked about e-cigarettes say they’ve seen marketing and advertising that makes e-cigarettes appealing,” said Rebecca Boulos, executive director of the Maine Public Health Association.
“YMCAs, boys and girls clubs. That’s an opportunity for us to educate our youth so it’s not just in schools,” said Boulos.
After the release of the survey, Gov. Janet Mills released a statement that said: “Young people know that smoking cigarettes is dangerous to their health. Now, it is important they understand that vaping is also dangerous. My administration will launch an education and prevention campaign to aid in that effort.
Maine’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program’s budget is also getting an increase of almost 300 percent as part of the overall effort to battle the crisis.
When the law that raised the age limit on purchasing tobacco products to 21 went into affect, Mills “grandfathered” those who were 18 at the time. She said she’ll introduce legislation to get rid of the grandfathered sales.