For the first time in 17 years, recent surveys have shown an increase in the use of tobacco products among high schoolers. Amy Reineke of Horizon Public Health told the KMRS Community Connection program that many of these products are packaged like candy and driving the increase are flavored tobacco products and e-cigarettes.

Tracy Kraus, also of Horizon Public Health, noted that the JUUL e-cigarettes, which look like USB flash drives, are small, easily concealed, hard to detect and come in hundreds of flavors designed to appeal to younger potential smokers.

Kraus also noted that other drugs besides tobacco can be put in the JUUL devices, including marijuana and some forms of opioids. She urged parents to carefully check their children’s backpacks. Horizon recently started a discussion with Stevens County about raising the age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

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