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FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH IN PINELLAS COUNTY SPOTLIGHTS THE YOUTH VAPING EPIDEMIC FOR TOBACCO FREE FLORIDA WEEK

April 23, 2019

The federal government declared youth vaping, or e-cigarette use, a nationwide epidemic. In
light of these concerns and the misinformation surrounding this topic, the Bureau of Tobacco
Free Florida and the Department of Health in Pinellas County are helping educate parents,
educators, pediatricians and partners on what they need to know about vaping and youth. This
year’s Tobacco Free Florida Week, April 22–28, is themed E-Epidemic: Vaping and Youth.
The most popular e-cigarette brand is JUUL,1,2 a device shaped like a USB drive that is
available in a variety of flavors and easy to conceal. In fact, youth are using JUUL devices
inside school bathrooms and classrooms.
3,4,5
Here are the facts:
• Youth vaping has increased dramatically across the country and in Florida. In 2018,
about 25% of Florida high school students reported current use of electronic vaping – a
58% increase compared to 2017.6
In 2018, Pinellas County youth ages 11-17 reported
19.8% currently use electronic vaping, which has more than doubled from the previous
year.
• Youth are vaping at much higher rates compared to adults. One in four Florida high
school students are vaping.7 Only about 4% of Florida adults are vaping.8
• The long-term health effects of e-cigarettes are still unknown. E-cigarette devices heat a
liquid – usually containing nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals – and produce an
aerosol. This aerosol, aka “vapor,” is NOT water. Some of the ingredients in e-cigarette
aerosol could also be harmful to the lungs in the long-term, according to the CDC. For
example, some e-cigarette flavorings may be safe to eat but not to inhale because the
gut can process more substances than the lungs.9,10
• E-cigarettes, including JUUL, typically contain nicotine, which is highly addictive.11 Youth
may be more sensitive to nicotine and feel dependent on nicotine sooner compared to
adults.12,13,14 According to the manufacturer, a single JUUL pod (the “liquid” refill)
contains as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.15 JUUL uses nicotine salts,
which can allow high levels of nicotine to be inhaled more easily and with less irritation.16
• The brain continues to develop until the early to mid-20s and the developing brain is
more vulnerable to the negative effects of nicotine. The effects include reduced impulse
control, deficits in attention and cognition, and mood disorders. Using nicotine in
adolescence may also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.17
• Evidence suggests that youth who use e-cigarettes may be at greater risk of starting to
smoke regular cigarettes.18,19,20,21
“The rates of youth vaping in Pinellas County has been increasing rapidly” said Sunny Davis,
Tobacco Prevention Program Manager. “Our goal is to educate parents, school system staff,
and the community to address this epidemic on a local level. We recognize Tobacco Free
Florida as a valuable resource for accurate information about youth vaping.”
Parents and educators should advise youth of the dangers of nicotine; discourage youth
tobacco use in any form, including e-cigarettes; and set a positive example by being tobacco
free themselves. Tobacco Free Florida is taking steps to educate Floridians about this troubling
epidemic through social media campaigns and an educational blog post, which can be found at
###
About Tobacco Free Florida
The Florida Department of Health’s Tobacco Free Florida campaign is a statewide cessation
and prevention campaign funded by Florida’s tobacco settlement fund. Since the program
began in 2007, more than 212,000 Floridians have successfully quit using one of Tobacco Free
Florida's free tools and services. There are now approximately 451,000 fewer adult smokers in
Florida than there was 10 years ago, and the state has saved $17.7 billion in health care
costs.22 To learn more about Tobacco Free Florida’s Quit Your Way services, visit
www.tobaccofreeflorida.com or follow the campaign on Facebook at
Editor’s Note:
The Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida and the Department of Health in Pinellas County are
charged with addressing tobacco products, but we feel it is important to note that e-cigarette
devices, including JUUL and products that resemble JUUL, can be used to deliver marijuana.
Our information and resources focus on e-cigarette devices that deliver nicotine.