After getting Tobacco 21 passed, St. James continued to attack the smoking scene.

Last Tuesday, inside the High School Little Theatre, a small group of community members joined together for an informative presentation by Kaley Hernandez, of the Minnesota Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, on the risks and dangers of vaping.

While tobacco kills 6,000 Minnesota residents a year, vaping has also become an epidemic, especially among the youth.

21.9% of 18-24-year-olds use electronic cigarettes, and the use of tobacco among youth has increased for the first time in 17 years. 26.4% of 11th graders have vaped in the last 30 days, up from 17.1% in 2016. A stunning 11.1% of eighth-graders graders have vaped within a month. In 2016, that number was 5.7%. A total of 16.3% of ninth graders, an increase from 9.3% in 2016.

While the e-cigarettes are generally viewed as the "healthier" choice, the same basic ingredients in cigarettes; acetone, benzene, formaldehyde, rubidium, and propylene glycol, can also be found in vaping products.

In addition, Juul, Phix, and Suorin pods all contain more nicotine in a single pod than in a pack of cigarettes.

The e-cigarette companies target the youth in their advertising, with crazy flavors and bright colors on ads.

One of the real dangers of vaping is the lack of knowledge of the long term effects.

In 2019, 47 vaping related deaths in 28 states have been recorded as of November 20th. There have been 2,290 vaping related injuries, with 119 cases in Minnesota and a singular case in Watonwan County.

For more information on vaping and e-cigarettes, visit www.health.mn.gov/ecigarettes.