MUNCIE -- Indiana middle and high school students are using electronic cigarettes more than traditional cigarettes and other nicotine products, according to an annual survey of the drug and alcohol habits of Hoosier kids.
This is the first year the Indiana Youth Survey asked students about using e-cigarettes or vaping pens. Almost 25 percent of the Hoosier 12th grade respondents say they had used the handheld electronic devices that vaporize liquid nicotine solution in the last month. That’s higher than the national average of 17 percent. The survey shows that in every grade from seven through 12, e-cigarettes were used more than traditional cigarettes.
Miranda Spitznagle, director of the state health department’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Division, says the electronic devices have been heavily advertised as an alternative smoking product.
“It’s electronic, it’s relatively new, and I think that is very attractive to youth," Spitznagle said. "And a lot of the restrictions that have traditionally been placed on other tobacco products don’t apply currently to electronic cigarettes. So I think there’s a lack of understanding and knowledge about the potential harms of the product, especially among youth.”
E-cigarettes aren’t included in the statewide smoking ban, but some places have banned them locally. Spitznagle says like regular cigarettes, Hoosiers have to be 18 to buy vaping products.
As for the other findings of the Indiana University-administered study -- Hoosier student use of alcohol and marijuana was below national levels. And with about 111,000 students responding, only about one percent had ever used meth.