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During this year’s state legislative session, high school and university students are intensifying their efforts to ban the underage use of e-cigarettes and other non-nicotine tobacco throughout the state of Utah.

Spearheading the movement is Students Against Electronic Vaping, a coalition comprised of students from 32 different high schools and five universities across Utah. The organization was founded in 2015 by Davis High School student Cade Hyde.

“We formed SAEV because use of e-cigarettes by Utah youth ages 13-17 was increasing exponentially, with more than 22,000 kids grades eight through 12 using e-cigarettes on a daily basis in 2016,” Hyde said in a press release.

Members of SAEV plan to eradicate e-cigarette use through petitioning legislation and public policy while also educating community members on nicotine addiction, health effects and economic impacts of vaping.

The organization is working with House of Representatives member Paul Ray of Clinton to support House Bill 252 in the state legislative session.

The bill attempts to put the same legislation currently in effect on tobacco products also on e-cigarettes. Its main emphasis is to place an 86 percent tax on e-cigarette products.

The reason SAEV insists on this method of action is because, through microeconomic theory, for every 10 percent increase of a product’s price, 6.5 percent of users will stop using it.

“The tobacco industry is marketing our youth through e-cigarettes to further these addictions,” Vice President of SAEV McGyver Clark said. “In 2013, only five percent of our youth were using e-cigarettes. In 2017, this is up to 11.2 percent. If it takes another two to three years to pass this bill, up to 30,000 teens total ages 13-17 will be using e-cigarettes
in Utah.”

If SAEV accomplished its tax raise to 86 percent, the probability states that within the next year, 50 percent of users will quit using e-cigarettes simply because the product no longer falls within their desired price point.

“In 2010, when tobacco tax raised by $1 per pack, in 2011, half of youth quit using tobacco,” said Clark.

According the IBIS, Utah’s public health data resource, e-cigarette use has doubled in the last four years in Utah and tripled in the last year on a
nationwide scale.

“What we are seeing now is that e-cigarette use is detrimental to our society,” Clark said.

According to Clark, research indicates that youth who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to use actual cigarettes than non-users, with an average of 37.5 percent taking up cigarettes within two years of initially vaping.

“It is very difficult to pass any legislation in regards to tobacco because what everyone needs to understand is that the tobacco industry is the e-cigarette industry,” said Clark.

House Bill 252 will be put through committee in the next week. Those interested in supporting this legislative session are encouraged to contact their local representatives.

SAEV also invites any student to stand on Capitol Hill the day of legislation in support of the bill. According to Clark, they are looking for roughly 500 Utah students to attend.

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