A new report shows that e-cigarette use in Indiana grew in recent years.
Claire Fiddian-Green is the president and CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, which released the study. She said e-cigarettes are still a newer product and data is still evolving, but research shows worrying trends.
“In terms of e-cigarette use In Indiana, that grew 72 percent from 2016 to 2021, which is the most available data that we have,” she said.
Fiddian-Green said while research has shown e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are still harmful in many ways.
“E-cigarette vapor is often considered harmless, but it’s not,” she said. “It has 2.7 times more airborne nicotine in homes where there’s vaping than those without tobacco, and it also may contain harmful substances like carcinogens and metals.”
Fiddian-Green said while youth vaping has declined overall, a “large number” of teen Hoosiers still use e-cigarettes.
“Nine percent of all Indiana youth said they used e-cigarettes in the past month on average,” she said. “And in 11th and 12th grade, nearly 20 percent of students say that they have been vaping within the past month.”
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She said the amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes can also affect brain receptors, making youth more susceptible to nicotine addiction.
The study also contained recommendations to further decrease use of e-cigarettes, particularly for youth. These include making tobacco and e-cigarettes harder to access for youth, increasing the prices of these products and making flavored cartridges for youth more difficult to obtain.
Fiddian-Green said one of the most important components to discourage tobacco use for all Hoosiers is education.
“We need to make sure that we are educating young people and adults about the harm that does come from vaping,” she said. “We need to make sure people understand they’re not safe. They actually do cause harm and it would be best to quit entirely.”
She said there are also economic consequences for all Hoosiers from e-cigarette use.
“Each person who vapes can cost more than $2,000 annually in additional health expenses,” Fiddian-Green said. “And because employers and taxpayers pay most health care expenditures, that means that everybody, whether or not they pay, is sharing those expenses.”
Fiddian-Green said resources, such as Quit Now Indiana, are available to connect Hoosiers with proper services and treatment if they do want to quit tobacco.