Announcements

Youth e-cigarette use in Washoe County
Increased use and toxic side-effects statistics begin to surface

Media Release
For Immediate Release
www.washoecounty.us/health

Contact: Phil Ulibarri
pulibarri@washoecounty.us
775.328.2414 or 775.772.1659

RENO, NV – A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that sales of JUUL, an e-cigarette shaped like a USB flash drive, grew more than seven-fold from 2016 to 2017. Use of JUUL and other e-cigarette devices by youth in schools, including in classrooms and bathrooms, has been widely reported across the nation and in Washoe County schools.

Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, and JUUL contains among the highest nicotine content of any e-cigarette on the U.S. market. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development of children, teens and young adults. 

According to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey there are more youth using e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes; 21.8% of Washoe County high school students reported using e-cigarettes, while 7.2% reported use of regular cigarettes.  “It is a public health concern that youth who have never used tobacco are trying and becoming regular users of e-cigarettes,” said Washoe District Board of Health Chair Kitty Jung. “We know from experts and the Surgeon General that e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless and that it poses health risks and nicotine addiction.” Health officials site local studies as well, like those done recently at the Desert Research Institute (DRI). Those studies showed that when heated, flavorings used in e-cigarettes produce toxic compounds.  Another DRI study using volunteer e-cigarette users measured exhaled breath from vaping participants and noted that toxic compounds in the breath of those who were vaping were higher than the breath of those who were not actively vaping. 

Like other e-cigarettes, JUUL is a battery-powered device that heats a nicotine-containing liquid to produce an aerosol that is inhaled. It comes in a variety of flavors, including fruit and other flavorings that appeal to youth.  The liquid that is used in JUULs is a nicotine salt formula, which can allow high levels of nicotine to be inhaled more easily and with less irritation, which may also appeal to youth.  

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has taken a series of actions as part of its Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan to more immediately target the illegal sales of e-cigarettes to youth, as well as youth-oriented marketing and appeal of these products. In Nevada and within Washoe County, public health leaders are assessing measures to educate and prevent youth from using e-cigarettes, including raising the age of purchase for tobacco and e-cigarette products from 18 to 21. 

“While there are varying opinions regarding if and when adults should use e-cigarettes, the bottom line on youth is that they absolutely should not use them,” said Jung. “The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for children, teens, and young adults.” 

More information about e-cigarettes, including prevention and cessation resources can be found at www.GetHealthyWashoe.com, click on Be Tobacco Free.

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