/ Modified sep 20, 2019 3:51 p.m.

Pima County steps up outreach to prevent vaping

Health officials say they're focused on discouraging younger people from picking up the habit.

Pima County shares concerns school districts have on the issue of vaping and nicotine addiction. The Pima County Health Department provides outreach to schools and families. Arizona 360 learned more about those efforts from Rebecca O’Brien, tobacco and chronic disease prevention program manager.

“We partner with a number of schools to provide tobacco education directly in the classroom. Then we also partner with actual teachers,” O’Brien said. The department also gives presentations to different groups in the community interested in more information. O’Brien said the county is concerned with tobacco use and vaping because both deliver nicotine.

“We do know electronic nicotine delivery devices in addition to nicotine do have a number of potentially harmful chemicals within them. Certain flavorings, metals and other cancer-causing chemicals. So they’re not harm-free by any means,” O’Brien said. “There is some concern that young people who are using vaping products might move on to other tobacco products like traditional cigarettes.”

The Pima County Board of Supervisors rejected an ordinance this week that would raise the legal age to purchase tobacco-related products to 21. It would have also made it illegal to use e-cigarettes or vape in areas where smoking is already prohibited. Leading up to the board’s vote, the Pima County Health Department hosted a series of community meetings to solicit feedback.

“Some of the most effective ways to combat big tobacco to prevent youth especially from using tobacco is at the policy level. You kind of get a bigger bang for your buck when you’re looking at policy versus more individualized one-on-one education,” O’Brien said.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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