STEVENS POINT, Wis.(WSAW)-- More Wisconsin middle and high school students are turning to e-cigarettes, according to new data from the 2016 Youth Tobacco Survey, published by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
The survey shows 13 percent of high school students using e-cigarettes compared to 8.1 percent using conventional cigarettes. Similarly, 2.6 percent of middle school students report using e-cigarettes compared to 1.3 percent using conventional cigarettes.
Tiffany Boak from the Portage County Health department said vaping has become so popular among teens, because it's odorless, and tastes good. Adileen Sii from Lincoln High School agrees, and said she sees a lot of her classmates posting videos online of them vaping.
Sii is also a the Wisconsin Ambassador for Tobacco Free Kids, a national organization working to educate kids on the harmful affects of tobacco. She said she's noticed more tobacco companies targeting teens by creating tasty flavors and color wrapping for their products.
That recent survey shows 96% of middle school students and 88% of high school students say they would not use e-cigarettes if they didn't feature flavors like mint, candy, fruit, and chocolate.
A few reasons local health officials are alarmed by the news include:
· Studies increasingly show that youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become regular smokers.
· Nicotine affects adolescent brains differently- potentially making them more susceptible to addiction.
· Two chemicals found in e-cigarettes (Diacetyl and 2,3-pentanediione) have been shown to cause serious lung damage.
WI WINS began covering the sale of e-cigarettes to minors (under 18 years of age) in their compliance checks for 2016. In Portage County, out of 45 compliance completed, only 1 facility sold e-cigarette products to a minor. WI WINS will continue to include the sale of e-cigarettes to minors in their compliance checks, along with traditional tobacco products, in 2017.