ST. GEORGE, UT - In an effort to encourage the regulation of e-cigarettes, The Washington County Youth Coalition (WCYC) recently traveled to Washington, DC to meet with Utah Congressman Chris Stewart, Senator Orrin Hatch, and Senator Mike Lee. A week later, the WCYC went to Salt Lake City to educate Utah’s legislators; representatives Don Ipson, Lowry Snow, Jon Stanard, and Senator Stephen Urquhart. The purpose of this trip was to focus on proposed state e-cigarette regulations that would further restrict e-cigarette access to teenagers.
“We were excited to be able to meet with our senators and Representative Stewart,” reports sixteen-year-old WCYC President Abigail Dickie (Snow Canyon High School). “Our ultimate goal for the DC trip was to share our concerns and research about the dangers of e-cigarettes, especially for young people. We’re encouraging our policy makers to protect us by placing regulations on these nicotine delivery systems. We hope we were listened to and that action will be taken.”
Sergeant Ivor Fuller, who supervises resource officers in the Washington School District, is also concerned about e-cigarettes and students. "Electronic Cigarettes are too easily accessed and appear harmless to our young people,” says Sergeant Fuller. “Because of this, we have students who have used or are using them in class. This negatively impacts their health and education. There has to safeguards put in place to protect those who don't have a full understanding of the overall risks and long-term effects."
“E-cigarettes often contain nicotine, high amounts of one of the most addictive substances on the planet,” adds Kye Nordfelt, Director of Health Promotions for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWIUPHD). “Almost one in five Utah teens have experimented with these devices. The WCYC is educating legislators on policies that have proven to help keep legal drugs out of the hands of teens; including regulating how the product is produced, advertised, sold, and taxed. We also encourage citizens to learn more about the policies being considered and support measures that protect minors.”
Kaysha Price, WCYC Coordinator and SWUPHD Health Educator, accompanied the group on both trips and reports that Congressman Stewart has asked the coalition to work hand-in-hand with his office on future legislation.