<p>(Carroll County, Ohio) – Tobacco use among teenagers is on the rise, and Carroll County officials are hoping to address the problem.

Although statistics indicate that cigarette use by teens has declined, electronic tobacco use is increasingly on the rise.

In Carroll County, 44% of high school students, and 18% of middle schoolers have admitted to smoking. Community Health Educator Caitlin Matthews says that retailers and advertisers tend to target the younger audience.

“There were many tobacco retailers who had signs at 3-foot eye level, which is not for us adults. And then also, product placement with youth products standing next to a display of cigarettes.”

As products and advertising continue to appeal to teens, electronic cigarettes can actually be more dangerous, as regulations are minimal.

“The tobacco industry is not currently regulating the nicotine content in the liquid and the nicotine liquid comes in different flavors that is the same type of flavoring that’s found in candy and soda so it’s the same types of products that would attract the youth.”

Matthews is proposing to Harrison and Carroll Counties to follow the lead of cities like Cleveland, Columbus and Akron to raise the legal age to 21 for purchasing tobacco.

“Really the goal is to increase that age gap from age 18 to 21 so the kids in the schools wouldn’t have as easy of a time finding someone to purchase these products for them.”

The Health District has many resources for parents looking to talk with their teens about tobacco use, as well as those who want to quit tobacco. You can visit the  Carroll County Health Department for more information.

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