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E-Cigarette Use on Rise Among KY Young Adults

Health groups say e-cigarettes are a gateway to tobacco cigarettes for young people. (Please credit
Health groups say e-cigarettes are a gateway to tobacco cigarettes for young people. (Please credit
February 1, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. — More young adults in Kentucky are "vaping" than ever before, which is concerning health groups who say electronic cigarettes are not a safe alternative to smoking.

Data from the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll showed nearly half of Kentuckians between the ages of 18 and 29 have tried an e-cigarette - up from 37 percent last year. Amy Barkley, regional advocacy representative with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the findings are troubling because data shows e-cigarettes are a gateway to tobacco cigarettes for youths.

"While we have made a lot of progress in reducing youth smoking,” Barkley said, “with the rise of e-cigarettes, we're encouraging kids who wouldn't have smoked to get addicted to nicotine - and then from their e-cigarette use, go on to the use of regular, combustible cigarettes."

Many manufacturers contend e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and can be a tool for smokers trying to quit.

But Barkley said there are still too many unknown safety concerns. She said the Food and Drug Administration needs to take immediate action to restrict the sale and marketing of electronic cigarettes to youths.

The survey also found vaping was more prevalent among young adults compared with older generations, with just 3-in-10 adults reporting ever having used e-cigarettes. Barkley said it's not surprising.

"These e-cigarettes are candy flavored; we’ve seen gummy bear, cotton candy,” she said. “I mean, it's pretty obvious that these products are not just targeted to adults looking for a healthier alternative. They're targeting kids to get them addicted to nicotine."

The survey also asked about safety, and found that more than 50 percent of Kentucky adults believe the aerosol in electronic vapor products to be somewhat harmful to children, and more than one-fourth believe the aerosol can cause a lot of harm.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY