By Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Many New Mexico teenagers have stopped cigarette smoking but have taken up vaping, erasing progress anti-tobacco advocates said they achieved in getting high school students to avoid using traditional tobacco, a state analysis said.

The findings were included in the New Mexico Department of Health 2019 Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey, a project conducted with the state Public Education Department, The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday.

The survey found overall use of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, among young people has increased by 23% since 2009, with 37.8% of high school students saying they use some form of tobacco.

Dan Green, a health department survey epidemiologist, said the study is conducted every two years and that the most recent survey preceded a state law passed this year prohibiting tobacco products sales to people under age 21.

From 2015 to 2019, the first years the survey compiled statistics on youth e-cigarette smoking, overall use of the products increased by nearly 42%, Green said.

All other tobacco product usage declined during that period.

Cigarette smoking among youths decreased 63% from 2009 to 2019, cigar smoking decreased 54% and chewing tobacco use declined 50%, Green said.

The gains achieved by convincing young people to turn away from smoking and chewing tobacco were negated by the rise of e-cigarette and vaping product use, Green said.

James Padilla, a health department tobacco epidemiologist, said vaping is dangerous despite the perception among young people that it is not.

One pod of vaping liquid from a popular e-cigarette brand contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, Padilla said.

“We worry about nicotine addiction, because many of the e-cigarette and vaping products do contain nicotine, even when people think they don’t,” Padilla said.

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