Many Cowley County citizens have read in local, state, and federal news that there’s an epidemic of electronic cigarette use amongst adolescents and young adults. 

Electronic cigarettes are referred to as “e-cigarettes,” “e-cigs,” “cigalikes,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “vapes,” “vaporizers,” and “tank systems.” 

Electronic cigarettes include a vast group of devices that permit users to inhale an aerosol, which typically contains nicotine, flavorings, and other additives. Electronic cigarettes vary widely in design and form but commonly operate in a similar manner and are composed of similar workings.  

Electronic cigarette use among youth has climbed sharply in the past year at a rate of rampant measures. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration’s National Youth Tobacco Survey, the percentage of high school-age children reporting past 30-day use of electronic cigarettes rose by more than 75 percent between 2017 and 2018. Use among middle school-age children also increased nearly 50 percent.

The upsurge in electronic cigarette use among our nation’s youth has been driven by newer cartridge-based devices that have become progressively popular. Numerous electronic cigarettes look like a USB flash drive, making them easy to disguise. One of the most frequently sold versions is JUUL, which now has more than a 70 percent segment of the cartridge-based electronic cigarette market in the United States. A typical JUUL cartridge, or “pod,” contains about as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.

It is our duty to protect the children and youth of Cowley County through developing comprehensive, balanced policy. There’s currently only one ordinance in Cowley County that confronts tobacco use where our children should be free from harm: local parks. This ordinance is not enforced, as there are no signs posted. The time is now for our local governments to act on the epidemic at hand. Besides increasing the risk of addiction and long-term harm to brain development as well as respiratory health, electronic cigarette use may also lead to the use of regular cigarettes that can do even more damage to the body.

The time is now to be the change we wish to see in our world. The time is now not only to be leaders in our community of Cowley County but also the beautiful state of Kansas. We need policy change at the local level that involves electronic cigarette and combustible tobacco use.

RISE Cowley is hosting a free barbecue from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 22, in Burden City Park. The guests will pick up cigarette butts.

Charissa Wall Finch

RISE Cowley

Pathways to a Healthy Kansas Grant Coordinator

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