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Survey says 32% of Louisiana high school students are vaping

LAFAYETTE, LA — More of Louisiana’s youth is vaping than ever before according to a new survey.

The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living released an 18-page report this week showing the percent of high school and middle school students who are active e-cigarette users have more than tripled in the past four years.

“Any time you’re looking at the vape companies or the tobacco industry, they are always trying to come out with new products to get their next generation hooked,” More students have their heads in the clouds says Rene Stansbury with The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living.

Their survey of 2,700 students is conducted every other year, and the findings really shocked the group behind it.

Two years ago, 12.3% of high school students said they vaped at least once in the past month. This year that number more than doubled to 31.6%. Middle school active users jumped from 8.6% in 2017 to 15.4% in 2019.

“The youth feel that these are healthier alternatives to traditional cigarettes,” said Stansbury. “In fact, you’ll even have youth that will never have tried a traditional cigarette that feels okay to experiment with a vape product.”

Research shows most students use Juul pens when vaping, and the lowest dose cartridges available have as much nicotine as a full pack of cigarettes.

“Nobody uses analog phones anymore. Nobody wants to use combustible tobacco anymore,” stated Tim Champagne, a representative with the Louisiana Vaping Association (LAVA).

Champagne quit smoking to vape years ago and decided to open Troposphere Vapors in Scott and Lafayette.
He agrees teen tobacco use is a problem but wants to make sure the right regulations are put in place.

“My whole life I was told we got to end smoking,” stated Champagne. “We’ve finally come out with an industry that is focused on stopping smoking and now the government wants to take it away.”

This week Champagne with the Louisiana Vaping Association met with Congressman Clay Higgins and presented their suggestions to combat youth e-cigarette use.

LAVA suggested limiting nicotine levels on vaping products and increasing penalties for illegal sales and use, including putting restrictions on youth drivers licenses.

They also support Tobacco 21, since the majority of students buy illegal vape products from a friend.

“There are more issues that need to be looked at than just taking flavors off the market,” Champagne said about a frequent e-cigarette criticism.

Stansbury mentioned flavors should be removed and prices could be raised to deter younger buyers. Even though they have different solutions, both agree the government needs to act.

Stansbury said “Something has to be done. Protections have to be put in place.”

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