Vaping up among Washtenaw County high schoolers, study finds

Help is available for anyone trying to quit tobacco products

Heads up parents of teens: vaping is on the rise among high schoolers, according to state findings released by the Washtenaw County Health Department. 

While smoking is down -- just 2 percent of Washtenaw County high school students said they smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days -- nearly 1 in 5 students said they vaped in the past 30 days. 

The results come from the 2017-18 Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth. 

Key points include: 

  • Smoking was down from 4 percent of high schoolers in the 2015-16 report to 2 percent in the 2017-18 report. The studies asked students if they've smoked in the past 30 days. 
  • Vaping was up from 11 percent of students in 2015-16 to 18 percent in 2017-18. 
  • Each year 5,200 Michigan kids under age 18 become new, daily smokers. 213,000 kids under 18 in Michigan today will ultimately die prematurely from smoking, according to the Washtenaw County Health Department. 

“Although we have made significant progress in protecting our youth from tobacco-related health harms, we still have a long way to go,” said Kimberly Collom, health educator at the Washtenaw County Health Department.

Tips for parents 

  • Spit tobacco and vapor products are not safe alternatives to cigarettes 
  • A tobacco-free home protects kids from secondhand smoke and sets a good example
  • Anyone trying to quit any kind of smoking can call the Michigan Tobacco Quitline, which provides services for Michigan youth of any age. Young people can call the Quitline at 1-800-784-8669 or 1-800-QUIT-NOW and receive free telephone counseling to help them quit tobacco. The Quitline also offers a free text messaging program and a self-guided online program to help youth quit tobacco. The Smokefree Teen website - - also provides tools to help young people quit.  

Why Quitting Matters 

  • The use of products containing nicotine in any form, including electronic vapor products, is unsafe for youth, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
  • The brain is not fully developed until the early to mid-20s. Exposure to nicotine during periods of significant brain development, including adolescence, can disrupt the growth of parts of the brain that control attention, learning, and susceptibility to addiction. Effects can be long-lasting and can include lower impulse control and mood disorders.

“Far too many of our children are still using tobacco and being exposed to the health harms caused by secondhand smoke,” Collom said. “It is essential that we address e-cigarette use among young people, and do everything we can to prevent youth tobacco use, which can lead to a lifetime of addiction to a deadly product.”

State Spending 

  • Michigan spends $4.59 billion annually on health care costs directly caused by smoking, including $1.36 billion in state Medicaid costs.
  • The tobacco industry spends an estimated $320 million to market their products in Michigan each year.
  • Michigan spends  $1.63 million on tobacco prevention and control programming.
  • According to the U.S. Surgeon General, the more young people are exposed to cigarette advertising and promotional activities, the more likely they are to smoke. Eighty percent of underage smokers choose brands from among the top three most heavily advertised.  

More on the Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth 

The Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth (MiPHY) is an online student health survey offered by the Michigan Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to support local and regional needs assessment. The MiPHY provides student results on health risk behaviors including substance use, violence, physical activity, nutrition, sexual behavior, and emotional health in grades 7, 9, and 11. For more, visit the Michigan Department of Education’s website.

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