Seeming victory over Guam youth smoking turns to e-cig ashes
Sometimes it takes a law or an education campaign to help people kick a bad habit. Other times a more convenient or attractive vice comes along and undoes those earnest efforts.
Since 2014, youth smoking rates on Guam have dropped 5 percent — a feat that would be worth celebrating if it didn’t coincide with the finding that 35 percent of youth have picked up e-cigarettes.
It’s exactly what local public health advocates feared from the debut of e-cigs. “We knew that e-cigarette use was very alarming,” said Elizabeth Guerrero, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Health and Social Services.
The 2017 Guam Global Youth Tobacco Survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be used as a baseline to measure the effectiveness of the island’s tightened smoking regulations.
Over many decades tobacco companies figured out the tricks to peddling smokes to customers — young and old, legal and illegal. Now it’s the same game in a different guise.
Guerrero said DPHSS now has to fight against the “coolness” of vaping. An electronic cigarette vaporizes a nicotine-based liquid that is often scented and flavored. Though vaping products have been marketed as healthier alternatives to tobacco, medical professionals still question the longer term impacts of e-cigarette use.