Latino Youth Are At High Risk For Nicotine Exposure; CTLN Survey Aims to Learn More


CT Latino News covers the social determinants of health and democracy. As a part of this focus, CTLN looks to inform and engage communities of color on noncommunicable diseases, such as cancer and heart disease that disproportionately impact Hispanics/Latinos, and their common risk factors.  

Across the country, the use of E-cigarettes continues to increase this year—despite a temporary decline in 2020—with middle school and high school youth being the primary users. 

Health advocates have shared concerns that the ongoing popular use of such nicotine products, especially among adolescents of color, will exacerbate existing health disparities. 

“The uptake of e-cigarettes among Hispanic youth could lead to a ‘tipping point’ phenomenon, in which Hispanics disproportionately become nicotine-dependent in adolescence and suffer increased tobacco-related disease in adulthood,” according to a 2022 report, E-cigarette use among Hispanics: Reducing risk or recruiting new tobacco users?

The 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that E-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among Hispanic/Latino high school students (23.2%) and middle school students (13.1%).

In 2021, Connecticut was ranked 11th in the nation for having an extensive Hispanic/Latino population. The state’s Hispanic/Latino population has grown by 30% over the past decade, outpacing the nationwide growth of 23%. 

E-cigarette and related product use has been the highest among U.S.-born, English-speaking young males of Puerto Rican ethnicity, with higher levels of education, according to a 2022 cohort study published in the American Journal of Medicine Open

Connecticut had the highest percentage of Puerto Rican residents than any other state in 2021 – about eight percent of all Connecticut residents identified as Puerto Rican. 

Just last month, the state received its first payment of a nationwide $438.5 million settlement with Juul Labs. A two-year investigation found the vape manufacturer responsible for intentionally marketing its e-cigarettes to underage, urban consumers throughout the country. 

Connecticut will receive a total of $16 million that will be used for smoking/vaping cessation, prevention, and educational efforts, according to Attorney General William Tong. 

“JUUL’s cynically calculated advertising campaigns created a new generation of nicotine addicts,” Tong commented in a press release. “They relentlessly marketed vaping products to underage youth, manipulated their chemical composition to be palatable to inexperienced users, employed an inadequate age verification process, and misled consumers about the nicotine content and addictiveness of its products. The full public health ramifications of this misconduct are yet unknown.”  

In the U.S., Hispanics/Latinos are at high risk of contracting tobacco-related diseases, including cancer and heart disease. While smoking cigarettes has become less common, it is the leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality among Hispanics/Latinos across the country. 

“Cancer is the primary cause of death among Hispanic/Latino Americans, followed by cardiovascular disease. More than 43,000 Hispanic/Latino Americans are diagnosed with tobacco-related cancer each year and more than 18,000 die as a result,” according to the Truth Initiative

CT Latino News looks to explore Latino youth’s experiences with nicotine products and second-hand smoke. Please participate and/or share our survey on Nicotine Exposure, available below. 

All responses are anonymous; the information collected will be used in CTLN’s reporting and community engagement efforts to support and inform young Latino residents on nicotine and tobacco use along with its impact on heart health. Our newsroom sees the public more than just our audience but essential contributors in our work. 

“Health education and policy interventions are needed to prevent e-cigarette use among Hispanic adolescents, while acknowledging that some Hispanic adult cigarette smokers may benefit from switching to e-cigarettes,” reads E-cigarette use among Hispanics: Reducing risk or recruiting new tobacco users?

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