INDIANAPOLIS — The state of Indiana is rushing to try to slow down the recent trend of Hoosier high school students using e-cigarettes.
A 2018 study released Thursday showed vaping has increased by nearly 300% among high school students since 2012. To help fight this, the state health department is launching Vape-Free Indiana, a program to educate students, parents and teachers about the dangers of e-cigarettes.
However, Gov. Eric Holcomb was noncommittal about a new tax on e-cigarette products.
"Nicotine is nicotine," Holcomb said. "Look up the word and it's true in e-cigarettes as it is in a pack of cigarettes. I am for parity. I'll need to take another run at that in the future, whether it be this session or the budget session."
Holcomb did say he was having discussions about supporting a state increase of the smoking age to 21. He already supports the federal effort to raise the age.
“The number of new young Hoosiers vaping is alarming, and that’s why today’s announcement is critical to the health of our people,” Holcomb said.
The Centers for Disease Control has linked vaping to more than 200 severe respiratory illnesses nationwide, including at least 24 in Indiana.
“Many young people think vaping is harmless, but one e-cigarette can contain the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes," Indiana Health Commissioner Kris Box said. "As the number of hospitalizations rises, it’s clear that we need to help youth and parents better understand the health risks of these products before they become the next generation of smokers."