INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — E-cigarette use is on the rise among Indiana’s high school and middle school students, according to the state health department. That’s why more than 100 students from across the state rallied at the Statehouse on Monday.
Nyla Jackson, 16, said vaping is a problem at her school.
“A big problem,” said Jackson, who is an 11th grader at Concord High School. “I see kids actually pull it out in front of teachers and tell other kids, ‘Hey, let’s go do this in the bathroom.'”
She told News 8 one of her friends wound up in the hospital in critical condition because of vaping.
“He’s better now,” Jackson said. “He stopped and he’s still trying to get help. Now he’s helping his parents with the use of tobacco.”
Jackson doesn’t vape but said it was tempting.
“When it first came out with the flavored vapes, I was like ‘Oh, fruit loops, or oh, stuff that I like,” Jackson said. “I’m like wait, I have to think about what the long-term effects (are).”
Those long-term effects are why Indiana’s health department, the Voice Initiative and more than 100 young people hosted a Youth Action Day at the Statehouse Monday: to raise awareness of the risks of tobacco and e-cigarettes.
“I know it’s not easy to stop, but they have the power within,” said Hayden Abney, 19, who attends IU Kokomo.
“We have seen an explosion in vaping and nicotine addiction in our youth,” said Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana’s state health commissioner.
According to the ISDH, cigarette use is down among Indiana youth, but there was a more than 350% increase in e-cig use among middle and high school students from 2012-2018.
“Unfortunately, a lot of our vaping companies came in and really marketed to our youth,” Box explained Monday. “They marketed with flavors, they marketed with brightly colored packages and the tiny cute little devices you can use to vape through and that attach to your computer to recharge.”
The health department says so far Indiana has recorded five vaping-related deaths and more than 120 people sickened.
“Vaping in and of itself may have some underlying, worrisome effects besides nicotine addiction on the lungs,” Box explained.
On Monday, Gov. Eric Holcomb said, “Our job is to make sure we have the resources in place for kids, students, teachers, principals, etcetera to be attacking this on every front.”
Jackson has a message for Indiana teens who vape: “Stop now. Help others stop.”
Parents can text QUIT to 202-899-7550 to sign up to receive text messages designed specifically for parents of young people who vape.