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Just released findings from county-wide survey finds students susceptible to future tobacco use


Amanda Pitts
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Colusa, CA – October 3, 2019 – New research shows that over 43% of students in Colusa County believe it would easy to obtain e-cigarettes. These findings are part of new research released today on student use of, knowledge of, and attitudes toward tobacco products, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and marijuana.

Over 500 students from middle and high schools in Colusa County were surveyed as part of a public health campaign to address the current youth e-cigarette epidemic. Today, health advocates from Yuba, Sutter, and Colusa counties are holding a press event to release the results of this scientific survey, which is one of the most extensive tobacco-focused surveys conducted with students in the Tri-County area to this date.

"Overall, the findings show positivity that use of traditional cigarettes has decreased to historical lows among youth, but the risk for future tobacco use of non-traditional tobacco products remains high," said Amanda Pitts, Colusa County Public Health. "The thousands of flavored tobacco products on the market, along with the tech-inspired devices and predatory marketing by the tobacco industry fuel the rising popularity of e-cigarettes among adolescents. Most students in Colusa County that use tobacco products use flavored e-cigarettes and many non-users are at risk for future use."

The survey found the following for Colusa County:

  • Among Colusa County students who had never used tobacco, over one-third were susceptible to future use.
  • Nearly 20% of students had been offered a tobacco product in the past 30 days.
  • In Colusa County, almost 30% of middle and high school students have tried a tobacco product.

Over the last three months, lung injury outbreaks have occurred across the country, all associated with electronic cigarette use. Over 530 cases of lung injuries have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control. Seven deaths related to these illnesses have occurred, two of which happened in California. Two-thirds of cases are with patients 18 to 34 years old and 16% of cases are individuals under 18 years old.

In the midst of these outbreaks, the Trump Administration announced plans to ban flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting communities across the country. Shortly after this announcement, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to confront the youth vaping epidemic. In the 2018 U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on E-Cigarette Use Among Youth (PDF), states and local communities are encouraged to take action by implementing evidence-based strategies to reduce e-cigarette use among young people, such as restricting young peoples’ access to e-cigarettes in retail settings, licensing retailers, and implementing price policies.

"The widespread popularity of e-cigarettes is of particular concern and reflects the spike in use by teens and young adults" said Ted Mamoulelis, Health Program Specialist Supervisor for Colusa County Public Health. "We are also seeing cases of vaping-associated pulmonary injury in California, which should motivate our community to take the necessary steps to protect our counties young people from the risks of e-cigarettes."

Another goal of this survey was to examine the impact that secondhand smoke and secondhand aerosol has on youth in Colusa County.

This survey found that a large amount of students were exposed to secondhand e-cigarette vapor or secondhand smoke. There currently are no local smoke-free protections for children living in apartments. "Exposure to secondhand smoke and secondhand e-cigarette vapor continues to put at risk the health of non-smoking Colusa County residents, including youth, elderly, and other health-vulnerable populations" said Daisy Velasquez – Colusa County Public Health. "Children, especially, have limited choice to protect themselves from smoke and e-cigarette vapor. Building resilience starts with communities providing protections for their most vulnerable."

Additional survey findings for Colusa County:

  • Two in five students had been exposed to vapor from an e-cigarette or smoke from a traditional cigarette in a room or car within the last 30 days.
  • Over 30% of students were exposed to advertisements promoting electronic cigarettes.
  • Four out of five students who had visited a convenience store in the last 30 days were exposed to flavored tobacco advertisements.

The rising popularity of e-cigarettes among youth in Colusa County continues to be a matter of concern. Current e-cigarette use among middle and high school students in Colusa County is 6.6%, which accounts for the majority of all youth tobacco use (9.8%). While youth use of traditional cigarettes has decreased, the majority of youth that currently use do so because of their access and addiction to e-cigarettes.

Colusa County Public Health is committed to continuing to work with local health advocates and partners to provide accurate information and help make the healthy choice the easy choice for Californians.

For more information on youth tobacco use and e-cigarettes, please visit our Flavored Tobacco page.

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Printable version of press release available (PDF)

Data report for Colusa County Student Tobacco Survey (PDF)


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