In 2018 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that youth vaping in Colorado stood at 37%. This was more than twice the national average of youth nicotine vaping at the time. However, for the first time in seven years, the tide is changing in the state. A recent announcement by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that teens in Colorado are ditching vapes in droves. According to the latest Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, the rate of vaping among high school students in the state dropped to 16% from a high of 26% in 2019. This is a 10% drop, the first double-digit drop in a decade.
The survey further found that the drop was not just in vaping, the use of traditional cigarettes among high school students also dropped to 3%. This is about half the number of active high school smokers back in 2019. This is very encouraging as Colorado seeks to educate teenagers on the dangers of smoking and vaping at an earlier age.
The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey also reported that tobacco use by high school students has dropped by 12% from 29% in 2019 to 17%. This number tells the whole story of the turning tide for Colorado kids and their relationship with tobacco products. It is also a result of the many efforts by the state’s health department to educate the public and especially the youth on the dangers of tobacco use. According to the CDPHE, the drop in tobacco uses among high school students in the state can directly be linked to the students learning about the dangers of using vapes and traditional cigarettes.
“The latest data is encouraging. 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,” the Tobacco Program Manager at CDPHE, Natalya Versheure said following the publishing of the survey results.
While it is recommendable for the job done by stakeholders so far, more still needs to be done. This is particularly because the same survey showed that in some areas the problem was increasing or remained unchanged. For example, the use of flavoured vaping products increased to 23% from 18% in 2019. This is not good as many youths get attracted to vaping products because of their exciting flavours. Furthermore, these results were published at the time when the state senate just killed a bill that would have banned the sale and use of flavoured e-cigarettes in the state.
The survey also reported that the number of students opting for menthol cigarettes remained the same. This is not as encouraging as the e-cigarettes have also been linked to some profound health complications later in life. The data from the survey also shows that children as young as 13-year-old are experimenting with e-cigarettes. this is even though the state recently restricted the sale of vaping products to individuals who are at least 21 years old. However, it is expected that the implementation of these restrictions will see a drop in the number of kids accessing vaping products.