The Highland County Health Department recently wrapped up its latest Community Health Assessment (CHA) report that includes results from its community health survey, as well as information from a variety of other sources about the health of Highland County, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner said in a Friday news release.
“One area that CHA work group focused on in particular is the 29% adult tobacco use rate in Highland County, which is significantly higher than the national average of 16%,” Warner wrote. “County specific tobacco use rates for teens are harder to come by, but state trends in teenage tobacco use are concerning.”
According to key findings from the Ohio Department of Health’s most recent study of 3,000 students (grades 6-12), tobacco use among middle and high school students in Ohio increased 88% from 2016 to 2019. Specifically, the study found that middle school students saw a 125% increase in tobacco usage, while high school students saw a 52% increase.
“One of the most concerning trends identified in the study is the widespread use of e-cigarettes (vaping, vape pens, Juuls, etc.) among Ohio teens,” Warner wrote. “E-cigarettes were found to be the most commonly used tobacco product among both middle and high school students in Ohio. The study found that 11.9% of middle school students and 29.0% of high school students in Ohio use e-cigarettes (any use within 30 days of taking the survey was counted for this value).
“This increase in tobacco and e-cigarette use among Ohio teens is consistent with national trends, which have seen a sharp rise in youth vaping in recent years. This increase is a cause for concern and highlights the need for continued efforts to educate youth on the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarette use.”
The Robert Wood Johnson Healthy Communities Report 2022 showed that according to a national youth tobacco survey, e-cigarette use use raised from 11.3% in 2016 to 27.5% in 2019, while regular cigarette use dropped from 8.o% to 5.8% over the same period.
The health commissioner said the Highland County Health Department will be working with local school districts and community partners this year to address the issue. If you have suggestions on how the department and others can work together to address this issue, leave the health department a comment on social media at www.facebook.com/highlandcountyhealth.
Information for this story was provided by Jared Warner.