Growing use of e-cigarettes alarming

September 19, 2019

Link to letter online

To the editor:

As a concerned healthcare worker and volunteer with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, I am writing to stress the alarming increased use of e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco products in middle and high school students. In 2011, 1.5 percent of high school students and 0.6 percent of middle school students reported using e-cigarettes. In 2018, those numbers rose to 20.8 percent of high schoolers and 4.9 percent of middle schoolers.

I am appalled when I hear my aunt, a middle school gym teacher, report that “vape is all over schools,” attempting to combat it by teaching her students about popcorn lung. Or when a friend’s younger sister claims that “Juul is like currency” in her school. I encourage anyone to ask the teachers and students in their lives how e-cigarettes effect their schools. I am sure you will hear worrying stories of your own, from having to close bathrooms to prevent them from being used for vaping, to finding enough littered plastic Juul pods to fill a gallon Ziploc bag during beach clean-up.

Most adolescents initiate on flavored e-cigarettes, which quickly results in nicotine addiction, impacts brain development, and makes them four times more likely to begin smoking traditional cigarettes. This is a public health threat; we need to take action and maintain the work that has been done to reduce smoking in this generation. I urge Massachusetts lawmakers to pass a flavors ban to reduce youth access to e-cigarettes and get tobacco products out of our schools.

Allyson Wade, Foxboro