Pierre, S.D. – Data from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey show youth use of e-cigarettes in high schools has skyrocketed, with a 135% increase over the past two years. Survey results also show that 27.5% of high school students used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. Nearly 64% used mint or menthol flavored e-cigarettes, only 2% less than fruit flavored products and significantly more than candy flavors.
As lawmakers return for another legislative session, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) supports efforts to effectively address the e-cigarette epidemic that is affecting the state’s youth. In order to enhance recent federal action regarding tobacco products, ACS CAN will continue to work in the state to advance and implement comprehensive tobacco control policies, including:
- Protecting the Smoke-Free Air Law: Legislation passed during the 2019 session prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in public spaces. This law will continue to protect the rights of those who live or work in South Dakota to breathe clean air, free from secondhand exposure to nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals found in these products. It also helps to ensure that enforcement of existing smoke-free laws is not compromised, and that the public health benefits of smoke-free laws are not undermined.
- Regulation of Tobacco Products, including E-Cigarettes: Legislators have an opportunity to restrict the sale of all flavors, including mint and menthol, in all tobacco products. It is well documented that the tobacco industry uses flavored products to target youth. More than 80% of teens who report using tobacco products having started with a flavored product.
While raising the minimum legal sale age of tobacco products to 21 was an important step, action at the state level must also ensure comprehensive, active enforcement along with strong retailer licensing is in place to ensure compliance is taking place at all tobacco and e-cigarette retail locations.
- Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Funding: Protecting tobacco prevention and cessation funding of $4.5 million annually is a vital first step to protect our South Dakota youth from tobacco use. This is especially important given the ongoing youth e-cigarette epidemic. When adequately funded, comprehensive state tobacco prevention programs quickly and substantially reduce tobacco use, save lives, and cut smoking-caused costs.
ACS CAN volunteers look forward to meeting with lawmakers during ACS CAN’s annual Cancer Action Day on Wednesday, February 12. ACS CAN encourages individuals, businesses and organizations that are interested in these issues to reach out to ACS CAN to get involved in the fight against cancer at: https://www.fightcancer.org/states/south-dakota.