Eliminating Tobacco Use in WA Kids

Group of teenagers smilling, some on piggyback

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the US. 104,000 Washington youth alive today will ultimately die prematurely from smoking. For many it starts with vaping — nearly 15% of 12th graders in Washington State reported using an e-cigarette (vape) in the last 30 days. And many falsely believe that e-cigarettes are a safer product. The ugly truth is that e-cigarettes can deliver high concentrations of addictive nicotine and aerosol filled with toxic chemicals, linked to heart and respiratory diseases and cancer.

Did You Know?

  • An e-cigarette refill pod has the same amount of nicotine as at least a pack of 20 cigarettes.
  • In 2018, e-cigarette use nearly doubled in high school students.
  • More than 1 in 4 high school students use e-cigarettes, according to the 2019 National Youth tobacco survey.
  • According to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the large majority of youth e-cigarette users use flavored e-cigarettes, “with fruit, menthol or mint, and candy, desserts, or other sweets being the most commonly reported flavors.” Over the last four years, mint and menthol went from among the least popular to among the most popular e-cigarette flavors among high school students.

Eliminating Smoking and Vaping

Ugly truth

Tobacco use and vaping remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. And teens in Washington are using e-cigarettes at an increasingly alarming rate, addicting a new generation of users. Tobacco use is a health equity issue with Big Tobacco targeting youth, communities of color and those from LGBTQ+ communities at alarming rates, an intentional effort to get them addicted.

Making An Impact

The American Heart Association is working with partner organizations in Washington to encourage the avoidance of tobacco and nicotine products, decrease access to these harmful products and advocate for public health policies that build healthier communities, free of tobacco and nicotine.

Mental Well-being and Vaping: A Double Epidemic

For teens, the vaping epidemic is compounded by a rise in mental health concerns, especially depression, anxiety and stress. 1 in 3 teens report persistent feelings of hopelessness. The overwhelming majority of youth report first trying e-cigarettes to cope with anxiety, stress or depression. And almost half of teens who frequently vape are unaware of the negative effects of vaping on mental health, including magnifying symptoms. This video shares more:

Mental Well Being

Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge


The American Heart Association’s school programs, the Kids Heart Challenge and American Heart Challenge, educate kids and teens about healthy lifestyles, including educational resources that share the dangers of cigarettes and vaping. During the 2021-2022 school year, nearly 10,000 students in Washington participated in our school programs, but many more students across Washington State could benefit. Schools are uniquely positioned to support students in leading tobacco and nicotine-free lives. To join our Tobacco Free Schools effort in Washington, contact us via [email protected].

Advocating for Healthier Communities


With dedicated advocates in Washington State, our advocacy efforts have led to higher tobacco taxes, funding for cessation and prevention programs, strong clean indoor air laws and an increase in the purchase age for cigarettes and vapes to 21.

More work is needed to protect Washingtonians from the harms of cigarettes and vaping. In the 2023 legislative session, the American Heart Association is advocating for funding for the WA State Tobacco and Vapor Product Prevention & Control Program. To help us fight against tobacco and nicotine addiction, join our network of advocates at YoureTheCure.org.