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Oklahoma is still combating youth e-cigarrette usage as CDC reports national decline

An electronic cigarette.
An electronic cigarette.

Nationwide, 4% fewer high school students are using e-cigarettes compared to last year, according to new CDC data, and Oklahoma is implementing measures to further reduce its use among youths.

U.S. high school students reporting they use e-cigarettes decreased from 14.1% in 2022 to 10%. But, as of 2021, 21.7% of Oklahoma high school students used e-cigarettes and according to the Oklahoma ABLE Commission, there were 479 violations from minors caught in school with products that year.

Oklahoma recently became one of thefirst states to launch a registry where manufacturers and retailers report the vapor products they plan to sell.

In January 2020, the FDA tried to discourage teenagers from vaping by implementing an enforcement policy prioritizing fruit- and mint-flavored products, citing their appeal to children. The Associated Press found that the FDA has been unable to keep up with illegal disposable e-cigarettes, which are almost all flavored and manufactured in China.

Rep. Rhonda Baker (R-Yukon) said she hopes the state's registry will help local law enforcement crackdown on illegal product distribution.

“If there are retailers that are selling these products over and over, there's a registry that's created so that we can know who those offenders are, but also to know, where are these products coming from?” Baker said.

Currently, 75 Oklahoma school districts are also receiving $650,000 in state settlement money from a lawsuit against e-cigarette company Juul. She said they’re investing in things like school vapor detectors to curb usage.

But Baker said the most important thing Oklahomans can do is educate themselves and their children on e-cigarettes.

“Schools will have these detectors in place. We hope that that will be a deterrent for those students,” Baker said. “But just being on board with making sure that we are educating the public on what these products look like, how dangerous they are, and again, just making parents more aware of what their child may potentially be exposed to.”

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Jillian Taylor reports on health and related topics for StateImpact Oklahoma.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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