The use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, has doubled among Connecticut high schoolers in recent years. Between 2015 and 2017, vaping went from seven percent of the high school population, to almost 15 percent.
That’s according to a regular study of youth tobacco use in the state. The same study shows that the rise in vaping represents an overall increase in kids taking up nicotine use for the first time -- not just switching away from cigarettes.
Dr Mehul Dalal, chief of Chronic Diseases at the Connecticut Department of Public Health said use of e-cigarettes, which sometimes have a very high nicotine content, is troubling among young people.
“There’s science to show that has an impact on brain development," he said. "There’s science that shows that adolescents are potentially more susceptible to nicotine addiction. There’s emerging science -- but worrisome -- that shows that youth that start perhaps with these electronic nicotine devices, may transition... to the conventional cigarettes when they’re young adults.”
He said companies appear to be marketing to young people with attractive flavors like mango or creme brulee, and he believes both federal and state officials should more closely regulate how the products are sold and taxed.
"This group of consumers is very price-sensitive," said Dalal. Like most states, Connecticut does not yet place an excise tax on e-cigarettes.
Dalal also wants to see more robust education for parents and young people on the risks of e-cigarettes.