Nearly 6.5 million young people – about one in four middle- and high-school students in the United states – report being exposed to secondhand aerosol or “vape” from e-cigarettes in the past month, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that this secondhand vape is harmful, and Dona Wininsky, director of public policy for the American Lung Association in Wisconsin, said this shows that the state’s clean indoor air law is being eroded. The law was passed nine years ago.
“To make sure that people in their work places, in public places, would have clean air to breathe,” she said. “This report showing that a quarter of high school kids are now being exposed to secondhand vape from e-cigarettes means that they’re not being granted that privilege any more.”
Young people mistakenly believe e-cigarettes harmless
Wininsky said far too many people still mistakenly believe that e-cigarettes are a harmless substitute for smoking. E-cigarettes are being marketed to young people.
“They’ve been promoted by the industry as nothing other than harmless water vapor, but we have plenty of scientific research now to know that they have chemicals in them,” she said. “Some of them are carcinogens; they have heavy metals in them and they are not simply harmless water vapor.”
Eight states, not including Wisconsin, have adopted comprehensive smoke-free laws that prohibit both tobacco smoking and e-cigarette use in indoor areas. Wininsky said more education is needed, particularly among parents and school officials, that e-cigarettes may look safe but aren’t.
“We need to encourage school districts to prohibit use of any of these types of products on school grounds,” she said, “not just by the students but also by any adult during school hours, after school hours – in any activity that takes place on school grounds.”
More information on quitting and preventing kids from using tobacco is online at dhs.wisconsin.gov. The surgeon general’s research is at e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov and tips to help people quit are at BeTobaccoFree.gov.