Ohio’s tobacco use and vaping still high, despite education efforts

In 2019, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine called for a ban on flavored vaping products, signed a law bumping up the tobacco purchase and use age to 21 and earmarked $400,000 for an anti-smoking, anti-vaping campaign aimed at young people.

He pointed the blame on the tobacco industry for hooking teens on nicotine with aggressive marketing of e-cigarettes.

“Tragically, they decided to target children. And they have been exceedingly successful,” DeWine said.

DeWine and Ohio Health Department Director Amy Acton spoke out against tobacco marketing and offered Ohioans tips on how to quit, including calling the state helpline at 800-784-8669 and taking advantage of eight weeks of nicotine replacement therapy available to anyone, regardless of income.

DeWine and Acton raised the alarm about the health costs of smoking and vaping:

— The Ohio Department of Health has investigated 89 cases of severe pulmonary illnesses linked to vaping and have an additional 11 cases under review;

— Ohio’s lung cancer rate is 71 new cases per 100,000 people, which is above the national rate of 63 per 100,000;

— 21% of Ohio adults smoke, while 45 percent of Ohioans on Medicaid use tobacco;

— the national Monitoring the Future Survey reported significant increases in middle and high school students vaping nicotine and/or marijuana in 2019 compared with 2018;

— 6.2 million youths are using some type of tobacco product — the highest rate among high school students in 19 years, the national survey shows.

RELATED: Big tobacco law changes in place. Will they help youths?

The number of Ohio teens who smoke cigarettes has declined dramatically over the last 20 years, and public health officials are worried that the rise in vaping is undoing their hard work. Nationally, last year there was a 48% rise in vaping among middle-schoolers and a 78% increase among high-schoolers.

The federal Food and Drug Administration data show 3.62 million U.S. middle and high school students are using e-cigarettes, including 27.5% of high school students in 2019, up from 21% in 2018 and 11.7% in 2017.

Acton said Ohio is participating in the Truth Initiative, a campaign funded by the landmark settlement agreement between states and Big Tobacco. DeWine holds a seat on the non-profit board that runs Truth Initiative.

RELATED: DeWine wants ban on flavored e-cigarette products

RELATED: Decade after indoor smoking ban, more than 20% of Ohioans still smoke

In 2006, 58% of Ohio voters approved the Smoke Free Law, which bans smoking indoors at workplaces.

Ohio’s adult smoking rate is 21.1 percent, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2019, there will be an estimated 1,762,450 new cancer cases diagnosed and 606,880 cancer deaths in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Tobacco use remains the most preventable cause of death in the country and cigarette use increases the risk of at least 12 cancers, the American Cancer Society reports.

The American Lung Association said in November in its annual “State of Lung Cancer” report that Ohio ranks poorly for new cases of lung cancer, survival rates and catching the disease early.

The association said that lung cancer screening is the key to early detection, when the disease is most curable, but only 21.5% of lung cancer cases nationally are diagnosed at an early stage. While this screening test has been available since 2015, only 5.2% of those eligible in Ohio have been screened.

Lung cancer has one of the lowest five-year survival rates because cases are often diagnosed at later stages when it is less likely to be curable. Ohio ranks 28th in the nation (below average) for survival rates at 20%.

By the numbers

95: Percent of adult smokers that started before turning 21.

20,180: Deaths attributed to smoking in 2016.

5,400: Ohio children will become new daily smokers this year.

58.5: Percent of Ohio voters who said yes to ban indoor smoking.

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