Montana health officials applaud Surgeon General’s stand on e-cigarettes


In a new report, the U.S. Surgeon General warns against electronic cigarette usage among our nation’s youth and young adults.
National data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that use of e-cigarettes among middle school students is on par with that of adults 25 years and older. But in Montana, youth usage far surpasses adult usage. Half of Montana high school students have tried e-cigarettes and 30 percent are current users, compared to 20 percent and four percent of Montana adults respectively.
Further, e-cigarette advertising expenditures in the U.S. have increased dramatically from $5.6 million in 2010 to $115.3 million in 2014. While new FDA regulations prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and distribution of free samples, they do little to address the point-of-sale marketing tactics the tobacco industry uses to target youth.
The report also finds that, while more research is needed, electronic cigarette use is “strongly associated with the use of other tobacco products among youth and young adults, including combustible products.” Youth cigarette use in Montana has decreased over 50 percent since 2001; the rise in e-cigarette use has the potential to reverse that trend.
“Many e-cigarettes contain nicotine, an addictive substance that poses dangers to brain development in youth,” said DPHHS Public Health and Safety Division administrator Todd Harwell. “The report sends a clear and powerful message that any use of products containing nicotine, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe.”
In Jan. 2016, Montana passed a law to protect young persons from e-cigarettes by banning sales to minors.
“While we are proud of that effort, more is needed to curb this alarming and dangerous trend,” Harwell said.
Stores are required to place cigarettes and smokeless tobacco behind the counter and out of reach of children. However, cigars/cigarillos and electronic nicotine delivery systems are not under these same restrictions and are aggressively marketed using the same tactics the tobacco industry long used to promote regular cigarettes to kids.
“Displays of flavored e-cigarettes in colorful packaging placed next to candy in convenience stores is a tactic tobacco industries use to target kids and recruit a new generation of users,” Harwell added.
Flavored cigarettes have been banned since 2009, but e-cigarettes can be found in over 7,700 different flavors and new FDA regulations do not prohibit sweet, candy-type flavors directed toward youth. Research shows that over 85 percent of current e-cigarette users aged 12-17 use flavored products and 81 percent of those users report that they use e-cigarettes because they like the flavor.
The Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program addresses the tobacco industry’s point-of-sale marketing tactics in two TV public service announcements. The PSAs can be viewed here:
The Executive Summary of the Surgeon General’s report can be found here:
To learn more about preventing e-cigarette use among Montana’s youth, visit

Jon Ebelt is the public information officer for the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Chuck Council is the communications specialist for the department.



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