Commentary by State Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers)
The Centers for Disease Control is investigating more than 1,000 lung injury cases and 18 deaths across the nation, including in Indiana. That is because all those reported patients have a history of using e-cigarettes.
In the Hoosier state, e-cigarette use – commonly known as “vaping” – has skyrocketed almost 400 percent during the past six years. The majority of those users are between the ages of 18 and 34. This data is alarming and serves as a wakeup call that more needs to be done to make sure fewer young people choose to use e-cigarettes or vapes.
The 2018 Youth Tobacco Survey found roughly 20 percent of high school students currently vape. As a father of two teenagers, I find this statistic disturbing and I worry how children are exposed to these products, because they are often marketed with fun flavors and packaging.
The same survey also found 4 in 10 Hoosier youth saw tobacco advertisements on the internet, and 70 percent of kids reported seeing the products in convenience stores, gas stations and supermarkets. In response to this data, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced at Fishers High School a new push to encourage young Hoosiers to stop vaping or never start.
Part of this initiative includes investing $2.1 million in a social media campaign called “What’s Beyond the Haze.” It also creates a text-to-quit program where Hoosiers looking for help can text “DitchJuul” to 888709 to connect with resources to quit vaping. To further reach young users, state officials are developing educational materials for students, parents and educators detailing the dangers that come with using these products.
The trends reported nationwide and in the Hoosier state give us a strong reason to act on this health emergency, and the governor’s new anti-vaping campaign is a positive first step.
Looking ahead to the 2020 legislative session, I plan to support efforts to ensure fewer young people choose to vape and encourage more people to stop using these products. For more about risks linked to vaping and to find resources to help those struggling with addiction, visit MyLifeMyQuit.com. Please do not hesitate to contact my office at H37@iga.in.gov if you have any additional questions.