23.8% of NH high school students report they use e-cigarettes, the American Heart Association has released a policy to help end this epidemic.
The American Heart Association released a policy for governments, the public health community and health care providers to achieve the “tobacco endgame” of ending all tobacco use and nicotine addiction in the United States. This is a goal that first requires minimizing the use of all traditional tobacco products and ensuring that electronic cigarettes and other recent products do not addict the next generation of youth and adolescents.
The American Heart Association is in support of HB 680 – FN, an Act relative to the definition of tobacco product for purposes of the tobacco tax and retail tobacco licensing. This will include other products that can deliver nicotine to the user through inhalation of vapor, such as electronic cigarettes, in the definition of tobacco products in statute. Electronic cigarettes are tobacco products that should be subject to all laws that apply to these products.
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing nearly a half million people each year. It is known to cause heart disease, stroke, cancer, respiratory disease, and other illness and chronic disease. The endgame goal is at risk with the tobacco industry’s increasingly aggressive targeting of youth and adolescents, which has driven the rapid rise of electronic cigarettes and other new and emerging tobacco products. This poses an unprecedented threat to human life and the decades of public health efforts to reduce tobacco use.
Besides the health consequences, it is an economic issue for our country and for New Hampshire. According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, annual health care costs in New Hampshire, directly caused by smoking, are $729 million, including $139 million in costs to Medicaid.
The threat can be overcome if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rigorously regulates the manufacturing and marketing and sales of all tobacco products, if federal, state and local governments implement proven tobacco-control policies, and if health care providers and consumers are fully educated about the dangers of tobacco use and nicotine addiction.
The policy statement was released as an American Heart Association presidential advisory, which reviews the science landscape on urgent public health issues and offers implications or suggestions for practice, policy and future research.
According to the advisory’s review of the science, the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes and the net public health effect associated with their long-term use remain unclear and widely debated. At the same time, large numbers of youth are using e-cigarettes in combination with other tobacco products. Among current tobacco users, an estimated 2 in 5 high-school students and 1 in 3 middle-school students are using two or more tobacco products. In New Hampshire, 23.8% of high school students report they use e-cigarettes, commonly referred to as ‘vaping’, according to the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
The American Heart Association supports policies which prevent and reduce tobacco use - including e-cigarettes - especially among youth. Preventing and reducing cigarette and e-cigarette use will reduce tobacco-caused illness and save lives.
To learn more about the American Heart Association in New Hampshire, please visit heart.org/newhampshire or consider attending a local event like the New Hampshire Heart Ball, learn more at nhheartball.heart.org.