FISHERS, Ind. — Indiana is launching a multi-million dollar plan to curb youth vaping in the state. The governor and state health commissioner revealed the program at Fishers High School Thursday.
As the number of children trying e-cigarettes increases, so does the number of lung injuries and vaping addictions. Recent reports from the CDC link vaping to more than 200 severe respiratory illnesses with at least 24 in the Hoosier State.
Fishers High School Grandma Carol Lucuk comes from a close circle of cigarette smokers.
“My mother, my father, my husband," said Lucuk.
Her husband died of lung cancer because of cigarettes. She’s just now learning the dangers of electronic ones.
“We had done such a good job of getting the number of youth that were using cigarettes down to almost a minimal number," said Dr. Kris Box, the Indiana State Health Commissioner. "And now, this has, just as I say it, recruited this next generation of smokers for the state of Indiana.”
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, nearly 35,000 more Indiana students used e-cigarettes in 2018 than in 2016.
“The Juul companies and the e-cigarette companies, they’re very smart, they look at their data, they know how to market this to kids,” said Dr. Box.
The Indiana Youth Tobacco Survey reveals 19 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes and 24 percent reported Juul use. Stores are encouraged to crack down on selling these products to minors.
“But what studies have found is a lot of them get access through friends and family so, part of it is just the awareness,” said Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb.
The state is spending an estimated $2.1 million on an education, awareness and prevention campaign as well as a texting program that allows students to enter "DITCHJUUL" in their phones to get addiction help.
None of the following is part of the current plan, but Governor Holcomb says a tax on vaping, a lawsuit against vaping companies and changing the smoking age to 21 aren’t completely out of the question.
“It’s part of discussions I’m having right now with my friends in the legislature,” said Governor Holcomb.
Lucuk hopes people of all ages turn away from health harming products. She doesn’t like the outcome.
“You’re just making yourself sick,” said Lucuk.
If you would like to learn more about this plan, click here.