One in Five Denver Teens Uses E-Cigarettes

How Public Health Is Combating Youth Vaping in Denver

Most e-cigarettes contain chemicals that hurt kids' brains. Public Health in Denver has programs to stop retailers from selling vape products to kids, by doing undercover visits to stores and issues fines. In 2018, retailers were caught selling tobacco to kids 144 times. We also are educating kids and parents in schools about e-cigarettes. Last month, we presented to 1,200 middle- and high-school students.

The problem

Colorado youth are vaping nicotine at twice the national average. In Denver, one in five teens say they vape and e-cigarettes are now the second most-tried substance among Colorado youth, after alcohol. Although vape products contain dangerous toxins, including heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals - only half of Colorado youth surveyed think vaping is 'risky.'

Vaping harms brain development

Fast Facts about JUUL e-cigarettes

Most vape products contain nicotine, which harms adolescent brain development causing long-term impacts on memory and attention.

Vaping leads to cigarettes

E-cigarettes lead to future cigarette use. A study of 12th-grade students who had never smoked a cigarette found those who had recently vaped were nearly five times more likely to take up smoking soon after.

Targeting Retailers Who Sell E-cigarettes to Minors

The Denver Department of Public Health Environment (DDPHE) works to disrupt e-cigarette use where it starts, at the point of purchase. DDPHE inspects all retailers who sell tobacco products in the City and County of Denver three to five times a year, unannounced, using undercover minors to see if the retailer will sell them tobacco/nicotine products.

Retailers are responsible for establishing policies, procedures and training to stop employees from selling vape products to kids. If a retailer is caught, the store owner can be fined up to $999. They may have their right to sell these products suspended for up to a year.

Statistics about retail sales

In 2018, tobacco products were sold to undercover minors 144 times in Denver. 

  • Undercover minors made 101 purchases of cigarettes, cigarillos and chew tobacco.
  • DDPHE started focusing on vape products in November, and in the last two months of the year, the minors made 43 purchases of nicotine-containing vape products.
  • Vape products made up almost 30 percent of sales to minors for the entire year in just two months.

What can you do?

Are you a retailer of nicotine products? Visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's website for education resources. You can also visit DDPHE's web page, or email/call natalee.salcedo@denver.gov 720-865-6873.

Local Public Health Educates Teens and Parents in Schools

Denver Public Health (DPH) provides training and education specific to youth, parents and trusted adults around the dangers of vaping including the attraction of flavors that are targeted toward youth. In January of 2019, DPH presented to 1,200 youth at the Denver School of the Arts about the harms of e-cigarette and tobacco use. DPH is also completing community profile youth surveys to further engage with youth about vape use and determine current needs for intervention.

Educating local partners

DPH is also working with community partners like Servicios de La Raza to engage in discussions with, and provide resources to, youth and their families.

What can you do?

Contact Santos.Diaz@dhha.org to request education for your organization regarding vape products, including information about the dangers and marketing tactics. Parents: learn more about how cigarette advertisements influence teens and how you can talk with your kids about vaping.