Resolution 2020-07: Healthy Risks of E-Cigarettes/Vaping Devices, Especially for Youth and the Need for Education and Prevention

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WHEREAS, Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) is an Alaska Native tribal health and social services consortium established by the Interior Alaska tribes and tribal communities, to provide a unified voice in advancing
sovereign tribal governments through the promotion of physical and mental wellness, education, socioeconomic development and culture of the Interior Alaska Native; and

WHEREAS, Despite the fact that federal law prohibits sales of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes to youth and adults under age 21 nationwide, this does not prevent youth from having access to tobacco, ecigarettes I vaping pods, etc.; and

WHEREAS, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking went down from 2011 to 2019 from 4.3 % to 2.3 % for middle school students and from 15.8% to 5.8%; smokeless tobacco use went down during the same timeframe from 2.2% to 1.8 % for middle school students and 7.9% to 4.8% for high school students; and

WHEREAS, According to the CDC the use of e-cigarettes increased significantly, since 2011 and an estimated 3.6 Million teenagers in the US reported use of e-cigarettes in 2018, and 10.5% of middle-school students and 27.5 % of high-school students reported in 2019 they had used ecigarettes in the past 30 days; and

WHEREAS, In 2017, 15.7% of high school students in Alaska used electronic vapor products on at least one day in the past 30 days; and

WHEREAS, According to Dr. Karen A. Cull, in the Journal of American Medical Association, (JAMA 2019; 322(21):2095 -2103, many youth self -reported frequent use and most reported using flavored ecigarettes; and

WHEREAS, The 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey data show that 34.2% of current high school e-cigarette users and 18.0% of current middle school e-cigarette users use e-cigarettes on 20 days or more per month and ‘Monitoring the Future’ found that in 2019, 11. 7% of high school seniors vape every day; and

WHEREAS, Concerns over vaping have escalated in 2019 with a growing national outbreak of a life-threatening lung injury called EVALI (e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury). Since March 2019, more than 2,500 hospitalizations and over 50 deaths due to EVALI have been reported to CDC, often involving otherwise healthy teens and young adults; and

WHEREAS, The Surgeon General of the United States, Jerome Adams, MD, has emphasized the importance of protecting our children from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and associated health risks, and the need to immediately address the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, which requires awareness and collaboration among youth, adults, healthcare professionals and agencies; and

WHEREAS, The Surgeon General describes in his ‘advisory on e-cigarette use among youth’: “Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine – the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm the developing brain – which continues to develop until about age 25. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can impact learning, memory, and attention. Using
nicotine in adolescence can also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs. In addition to nicotine, the aerosol that users inhale and exhale from e-cigarettes can potentially expose both themselves and
bystanders to other harmful substances, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs”; and

WHEREAS, In a recent article (December 2019) titled “until more is known about vaping and THC Use, caution is the best advice” by Dr. Anne Zinke, MD, State of Alaska Chief Medical Officer, she references that research of the contents of e-cigarettes & vaping devices, has found that even some “nicotine-free” e-cigarettes have been found to contain nicotine; some vape pods contain the equivalent amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes; many also contain THC, the active ingredient of Marijuana; and Marijuana use by youth has been associated with a range of developmental and social problems. Early and continued use of marijuana can affect memory and attention, which can make learning and decision-making more difficult. Adolescent use is also associated with poorer school performance, increased school absences and drop-out rates, and mental health problems.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Tanana Chiefs Conference Full Board of Directors directs TCC staff to advocate at the State and Federal level for additional regulations that would prevent industry from
targeting youth in their marketing of e-cigarettes and vaping products; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the TCC Full Board of Directors directs TCC staff to advocate for and seek funding and resources for prevention and education of the health risks of e-cigarettes / vaping devices; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the TCC Full Board of Directors directs TCC staff to develop culturally sensitive media and education materials for youth in the TCC region.

Submitted by: TCC Regional Health Board


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