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The El Paso County Board of Health in January signed a resolution declaring teen vaping a “public health crisis.”

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TEEN VAPING DECLARED A ‘PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS’ IN EL PASO COUNTY

Last month the El Paso County Board of Health signed a resolution declaring teen vaping a “public health crisis” in El Paso County.

This action follows an executive order signed in November by former Colorado Governor Hickenlooper aimed at reducing teen vaping and tobacco use across the state.

These actions come as teen vaping reaches epidemic proportions in the state, with youth e-cigarette use in Colorado (27 percent) almost twice the national average (13 percent). El Paso County is not immune from this crisis. In 2017, almost half of high school youth reported having tried an e-cigarette, making it the second most tried substance by youth. Alcohol is number one (60 percent) and marijuana is third (39 percent).

Nicotine, the highly addictive chemical in cigarettes, is also found in e-cigarettes. Youth nicotine use has been shown to lead to lifelong addiction and have negative impacts on the developing brain including attention and working memory. Data shows that youth who vape are four times more likely to start smoking cigarettes a year later.

By designating vaping as a “public health crisis,” county leaders, El Paso County Public Health and other community partners will advocate for tobacco-free policies; promote tobacco-free environments across the county, such as parks and sports arenas; and further data-driven community programming.

“Teen vaping will not go away on its own. This is why our county Board of Health declared teen vaping a public health crisis,” said Dr. James Terbush, Board of Health president. “We are committed to working collaboratively with our community partners to tackle this issue strategically and effectively.”

Former Gov. Hickenlooper’s executive order directed local agencies to take action to limit the use of tobacco products, including vaping products, by youth. He also announced the release of The Colorado Tobacco Prevention Blueprint, which provides policy recommendations to reduce the burden that tobacco and vaping place on the state.

El Paso County Public Health’s Tobacco Education and Prevention Partnership (TEPP) and its community partners are working to protect youth from tobacco by:

• Partnering with local schools to educate teachers, staff and students about tobacco and strengthen tobacco-free schools policy.

• Collaborating with local governments and law enforcement in El Paso County to reduce illegal tobacco sales to minors.

• Creating smoke-free public spaces across El Paso County.

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