Page 17 - Alaska Parent Spring 2019
P. 17

  Tobacco and Alaska’s kids
The need for Alaska to protect youth from tobacco is
more urgent than ever, with youth e-cigarette use reaching epidemic levels due to a 78 percent increase in high school e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year 200 kids in Alaska become new daily smokers, placing their developing bodies at risk from chemicals, as well as a lifetime of deadly addiction.
“Tobacco use is a serious addiction and we need to continue to invest in proven measures to prevent and reduce tobacco use," says Marge Stoneking, executive director
for the American Lung Association in Alaska. “Alaska has made great strides in reducing youth and adult tobacco use rates but more remains to be done,” she says. “Last year, Alaska’s legislature passed a statewide smokefree workplace law which includes e-cigarettes, and strengthened youth enforcement by requiring vape shops to be licensed and subject to underage sales enforcement just like tobacco retailers. We commend lawmakers for these advances.”
According to this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” report, which grades states and the federal government on policies proven to prevent and reduce tobacco use, Alaska earned an A for tobacco-prevention funding and a B for smoke-free workplace laws. However, Alaska earned a D for minimum age of sale for tobacco products, because our age of sale to purchase tobacco is only 19, rather than the recommended 21. Almost 95 percent of smokers try their first cigarette by the age of 21. More must be done to prevent and reduce youth tobacco use, and one powerful tool is increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21.
   but when it comes time to taking meaningful action against the sale of these products and protecting kids, the FDA has failed to deliver in a big way," Erika says.
The American Lung Association is one of seven other public health organizations, including Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, Truth Initiative, American Academy of Pediatrics and Democracy Forward, and individual pediatricians that sued the FDA last March for its decision to delay the regulation of e-cigarettes until 2022.
What can parents do?
• Promote a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your kids about the harmful effects of addictive substances on the body.
• Remind your kids that like traditional cigarettes, JUUL and other e-cigs are highly addictive nicotine delivery systems.
• Contact your child's middle school or high school to learn how they are educating staff and students about e-cigarettes.
• Familiarize yourself with what JUUL and other e-cigarettes look like.
• Contact your state legislators and urge them to protect kids by increasing the minimum age to purchase nicotine products to 21, prohibit the sale of flavored products and put pressure on the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes.
If you or a loved one is addicted to nicotine, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit lung.org to learn safe and effective ways to quit.
 AlaskaParent.com
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