Hawaii has highest percentage of middle school vapers in the nation

Local News

A recent survey found that Hawaii has the second highest percentage of high school students that admit to using e-cigarettes in the nation. When it comes to middle school students using e-cigarettes, Hawaii tops the list.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the Hawaii Youth Tobacco Survey gives a look into student’s thoughts on cigarette products. According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, about 26 percent of high school students and nearly 16 percent of middle school students said they use e-cigarettes.

“For us we’re really concerned because when we think about 20 years of progress with reducing the use of cigarettes,” said Lola Irvin with the Hawaii Department of Health Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division. So when we think about our youth e-cigarettes rates being 26 percent, then what’s happening is we’re normalizing the use of tobacco products again with our youth.”

From 2011 to 2017, the Hawaii Youth Tobacco Survey found that e-cigarette use among Hawaii teens has skyrocketed, with middle school rates increasing by 20 percent and high school rates by 34 percent.

The surveys also show a majority of teens who use e-cigarettes said they were use them because of the flavors.

“They’re very attracted to the candy and fruit flavors and the diversity of the flavors that are available,” said Irvin.

While it’s illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to use or buy e-cigarettes, teens have found a way around that.

A majority of high schoolers and middle schoolers said they get their e-cigarettes from friends and family members.

While these surveys generally just show trends, Irvin said, they can affect change.

“We rely on the Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the Youth Tobacco Survey to share with our legislators and also to share with our sister agencies like the Department of Education to talk about what is happening and then the need for policy,” said Irvin.

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