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One in four students using tobacco products

More than 26 percent of Minnesota high school students use tobacco products....26 percent! That's one in every four students.

That finding and others in the new Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey results should be a wake-up call to everyone who cares about our kids.

I've served as Tobacco Prevention Coordinator at PartnerSHIP 4 Health for three years and this is the first time I've seen an increase in teen tobacco products use. This increase is due to the rapid rise in e-cigarette use among young people in recent years. Now, 19 percent of Minnesota high schoolers use e-cigarettes, thanks to easy access, aggressive tobacco industry marketing and flavors that appeal to kids.

Most e-cigarettes contains nicotine, which research has shown is harmful to adolescent brain development and his highly addictive. E-cigarette aerosol — that big cloud of vapor you see when people use e-cigarettes — has been shown to contain cancer-causing chemicals such as formaldehyde and heavy metals. One in five Minnesota high schoolers is using e-cigarettes. We need to be alarmed about this.

We must take steps now to reverse this trend of increased tobacco products use by teens. We need to have a comprehensive plan to combat this very real threat to the health of our young people.

Jason McCoy, MPH, Tobacco Prevention Coordinator, PartnerSHIP 4 Health

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