More than a quarter of teens in Colorado use e-cigarette and vaping products, the highest rate of teen vaping in the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials are worried the novel coronavirus pandemic might be leading to more stress and isolation that could make the vaping problem worse.
“The way some of us cope is being around people and talking about our feelings,” said Abby Hoerler, a Thunder Ridge High School senior featured in a new anti-vaping ad campaign called “Vape’s No Escape.”
The Tri-County Health Department and Tobacco Free 303 created the campaign to promote healthier alternatives to relax and relieve stress. A website features pictures and videos of local teens participating in various hobbies. The ads will pop up on sites like YouTube, where teens may be even more likely to see them right now.
“With this whole shutdown everyone is on their electronics, so I think it’s a great way to get across our message,” Hoerler said.
Tri-County Health Department officials say they hope the stay-at-home order is limiting opportunities for teens to vape.
“A lot of users are what we call closet users — they’re people who don’t want others to know that they’re using, especially their parents,” said Taylor Roberts, a chronic disease prevention coordinator at Tri-County Health.
Roberts said one of the silver linings in the pandemic could be that more nicotine users of all ages can find an opportunity to quit.
Tri-County Health Department is monitoring studies on how vaping may increase the risk of complications from COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration said this week the correlation between vaping and COVID-19 is unknown, but that smoking can increase the risk of complications.