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Vaping’s Popularity Puts More Pierce County Youth at Risk

You probably won’t find too many youth smokers these days. It’s not a cause for celebration. They exchanged traditional cigarettes for electronic ones, which have skyrocketed in popularity and use.

Vaping is the new cool thing to do. The vaping industry spends billions of dollars every year on advertising to portray that image to young people.

An epidemic that can cause long-term harm.

Youth vaping is so widespread, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared it an epidemic. Despite what you may have heard, vaping is harmful. Vape products contain nicotine the same as cigarettes. For young people, this is a big problem because nicotine can harm brain development, which can continue until age 25.

The latest Washington Healthy Youth Survey shows increases in vapor product use, which includes e-cigarettes. The state survey is every two years. Students in 6, 8, 10, and 12 grades answer questions about health behavior.

One question asked if students used vapor products in the past 30 days. Here are the percentages of older Pierce County students who answered yes:

  • For 10th grade—23% in 2018, compared to 14% in 2016.
  • For 12th grade—30% in 2018, compared to 18% in 2016.

An opportunity to act to protect our youth.

According to the State Department of Health, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease. In the 2019 legislative session, both chambers of the Legislature passed bills to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco and vaping products to 21. The governor has promised to sign this legislation into law. We can do more to help youth be healthier. Washington has opportunities to:

  • Commit funding to tobacco prevention and control—Washington invests less than 7% of the CDC recommendations. We rank 43rd out of 50 the states for funding spent on tobacco prevention.
  • Increase access to tobacco cessation services.

Do you have ideas for youth to be vape and smoke free? If your organization works with youth, apply for a $5,000 grant to curb youth vapor product and tobacco use. The deadline for grant applications is April 17. Learn more and apply at

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has been a state leader in tobacco use prevention. We engage youth, educate parents and teachers, track use rates and watch for new trends. We continue to work to protect Pierce County residents and promote a smoke-free environment.

Learn more about our efforts at