WASHINGTON D.C. — New Hampshire high school students vape more than teens anywhere else in the country, according to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Four percent of high school students in New Hampshire vape at least once a day, according to the most recent available Youth Risk Behavior Survey, from 2017 — higher than the national rate of 2.4%.
New Hampshire students also have the nation’s highest rate of frequent vaping: 5.7% vaped at least 20 days in the month before the survey was given. More than 40% of New Hampshire students have at least tried an e-cigarette or vape.
In Washington on Thursday, Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., pointed out the high rate of e-cigarette and vape use in New Hampshire at a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing. She was one of several senators questioning the Food and Drug Administration’s Mitch Zeller, who serves as the Director of the Center for Tobacco Products.
New Hampshire has seen just one case of vaping-related illness. In October, the state’s Division of Public Health Services reported an adult from Sullivan County was hospitalized with a lung injury after vaping nicotine products. The person has since been discharged from the hospital, the division said.
Hassan asked Zeller about what the FDA could do to ban flavored vape liquid — she said she worried e-cigarette makers could just rename their flavors to get around the ban, and expressed concern that vape manufacturers like Juul could be influencing how the FDA regulates the e-cigarette industry. In particular, she said she worried about flavored products that appeal to children.
The FDA is crafting a policy to get “unauthorized” e-cigarette liquids off the market, after the liquids were linked to lung ailments across the country. Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., are among the members of Congress calling for an all-out ban of flavored e-cigarette liquid, including mint and menthol.
New Hampshire has not taken any statewide action to ban e-cigarettes. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is working to ban the sale of e-cigarettes in Massachusetts after several people contracted vaping-related lung ailments.
Local school districts are trying to crack down on teen use. Laconia’s middle and high schools installed vaping detectors over the summer. And in March, Brian Bagley, principal of Wilton-Lyndeborough Middle-Senior High School requested funds for vape detectors from the school board.
In the hearing Thursday, Hassan said she worried about the ability of vape-using teenagers to quit using nicotine. Nationwide, 5 million teens vape or use e-cigarettes, according to the CDC.
The number of frequent e-cigarette users is small when compared to the height of teen smoking in the late 1990s.
A quarter of American high school seniors reported smoking every day in 1997, and 10% of eighth-graders smoked daily, according to the National Institutes of Health. Smoking has become far less common: nationwide, just 3.6% of 12th-graders say they smoke every day.