Kristina M. Box, MD, FACOG, commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, recently sent a letter to school administrators regarding the widespread use of e-cigarettes among Indiana youth along with information on free resources to address the issue.
“The U.S. surgeon general has concluded that e-cigarette use among youths and young adults is a public health concern, and that e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless,” Box wrote.
She noted that e-cigarettes are currently the most commonly-used tobacco product among Indiana youth. Based on data from the Indiana Youth Tobacco Survey, e-cigarette use has more than doubled among youth since 2012 even as traditional cigarette use rates among state adolescents have decreased over the last two decades.
Particularly drawing the ire of public health officials is the e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL, which sells an e-cigarette shaped like a USB flash drive that’s easily concealable. They also sell vaping liquids in flavors that appeal to young people and use nicotine salts that allow high levels of nicotine to be inhaled more easily and with less irritation.
“JUULs contain nicotine, which can disrupt adolescent brain development, including parts of the brain that control attention, learning and susceptibility to addiction,” Box wrote.
The Indiana State Department of Health’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission has assembled information and free resources for schools and parents to use and share with their students and children that’s available online at https://www.in.gov/isdh/tpc/2340.htm.
The department of health also has an online database of tobacco-related data, tobacco-free policies and tobacco control coalition information that’s searchable by county. Use this link for more information: https://www.in.gov/isdh/tpc/2350.htm.
Read Box’s full letter here.