The percentage of middle school students in Kentucky using electronic cigarettes and other vaping products has doubled since 2017.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted last spring shows the rate of vaping increased from 15.1% in 2017, to 31.4% in 2019. High school students saw a nine percent jump in the same time period.
"The Department for Public Health is really working to provide resources to schools and communities to do what we can to prevent students from using these products and to get them to quit using them," said Stephanie Bungee, a school health consultant with the Kentucky Department of Education.
The Kentucky House passed legislation on Wednesday that places a tax on e-cigarettes. HB 32 is intended to curtail youth vaping and is headed to the Senate for consideration.
The YRBS also shows more students are experiencing mental health challenges. The number of middle schoolers who have considered suicide increased from 18.2% in 2017 to 22.4% last year. High school students also reported a four percent increase.
The survey is conducted every two years by the Kentucky Department of Education in partnership with school resource and youth service centers. Students, whose participation is voluntary and anonymous, are randomly selected. Schools and health departments often use the data to apply for grants and for education efforts.