Kentucky Health Issues Poll: Younger and lower-income adults more likely to try e-cigs

Nearly 40 percent of adults 18-45 have tried vaping

LOUISVILLE, Ky (Jan. 31, 2017) — Despite federal government and health professional’s warnings that e-cigarettes, or “vaping,” can be harmful, nearly 40 percent of adults ages 18-45 in Kentucky have tried an e-cig, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP). Kentuckians with lower incomes also were about 74 percent more likely to have tried vaping than those with higher incomes.

More than 60 percent of current smokers have tried an e-cig, the report found, but even 7 percent of lifetime nonsmokers have tried one.

KHIP is an annual poll of Kentucky adults’ opinions on health issues; it is funded jointly by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health.

“Research suggests that e-cigs may be a gateway to using other forms of tobacco, and they can be just as harmful,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “They expose users to toxic chemicals, including nicotine, which long has been proven to be addictive and responsible for a wide range of health issues. E-cigs are simply not a safe alternative to smoking, especially for young adults and nonsmokers.”

The rate of Kentuckians who have tried e-cigarettes – one in four adults – remains statistically unchanged from the last time KHIP asked the question in 2014. Nationwide in 2014, however, only 12.6 percent of adults had ever tried an e-cig. No updated national numbers are available at this time.

KHIP also asked opinions about the safety of e-cigarettes. About three in 10 Kentucky adults thought e-cigs were safer than tobacco cigarettes, and 19 percent thought they were less safe. A much larger proportion – 45 percent – thought there was no difference in safety between the two.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report last December stating that the use of e-cigarettes by youth and young adults often leads to cigarette smoking, other tobacco use and nicotine addiction, with all the health dangers associated with nicotine addiction. The agency raised concerns that e-cig marketers have been using tactics that attract youth and young adults and said that the incidence of this age group trying e-cigs doubled from 2013 to 2014, the latest date for which data was available. The U.S. Surgeon General has called the rising use of e-cigarettes among young adults a “major public health problem.”

A copy of the KHIP e-cigarette report is available here.

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