This policy change came the same day the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced the results of its 2016 Minnesota Student Survey, showing youth smoking hitting historic lows. Results showed that traditional cigarette smoking among both 11th and 9th grade students fell by nearly one third since the survey was last conducted in 2013. The survey also found declines in cigar product and smokeless tobacco use for this same age group.
Coordinator Meghan Bown, Crave the Change, attributes these declines to statewide efforts to curb cigarette smoking, including a 2013 tobacco tax, bans on indoor smoking, and tighter restrictions on youth access to tobacco products.
“While this data is reason to celebrate,” said Bown, “we still have work to do. The study also showed e-cigarette use is now more than double that of cigarette use among students.”
She noted products like e-cigarettes, e-hookahs and vape pens typically contain liquid forms of nicotine and are unregulated. According to the MDH, no amount of nicotine is safe for youth. It is highly addictive and may harm adolescent brain development. Damaging long-term effects may have implications for learning, memory, attention, behavior problems and future addiction.
Together, we can support efforts proven to prevent teens from using tobacco products, including keeping the price of tobacco high, raising the legal age to purchase tobacco and restricting the sale of flavored cigars, chew and e-cigarettes that appeal to kids.