ROCHESTER, Minn. - It’s being called a vaping epidemic. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is joining the fight in calling for an aggressive campaign focused on youth education.
“It's an alarming increase in the use of vaping amongst our young people,” said Governor Walz.
He’s hoping to stop the epidemic from impacting Minnesota youth. Walz plans to implement a multi-faceted campaign. It’s focused on youth education and outreach. Anthony Johnston is a sophomore in college and tells me he has friends who vape to curb smoking cigarettes.
“It was a problem even when I was in high school, people would do it in classes or outside in the hallways,” said Johnston.
The dangers of vaping are now coming to light. Most e-cigs contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical that can be harmful to brain development in teens and young adults.
The Minnesota Department of Health conducted a student survey, finding one in four Minnesota 11th graders reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30days. That's more than a 50% increase since 2016.
“This is absolutely unacceptable that we're allowing big tobacco, and that's exactly who's behind this, to both endanger our students in the short run. We know exactly what vaping is doing but more sinister wise addicting them to nicotine,” said Walz.
He’s also looking at tackling this with legislation. He says there are some items up for consideration including raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21 statewide and prohibiting the internet sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products.