Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a 46% increase of calls to the Hawaii nonprofit Domestic Violence Center, according to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Contextually, the number of incidents is likely much higher than the percentage of calls because most victims of domestic violence do not seek help at all.
This is especially pressing because the state of Hawaii has already had a significantly high prevalence of domestic violence.
As a mother and community member, it worries me that our kids are becoming hooked on e-cigarettes at an alarming rate, the majority drawn to try them by their enticing flavors.
As a mother of two, I’m deeply troubled by the high rates of vaping among middle school children on the Big Island. More than 20% say they vaped in the past 30 days. That’s nearly 1 in every 5 middle school children.
According to the 2019 Hawaii Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the state Department of Health, youth vaping in Hawaii has steadily risen since 2015. Among Big Island high schoolers, 35.4% are currently using e-cigarettes, which is higher than the statewide average of 30.6%.
How did this happen? We were doing so well with reducing tobacco use among teens and then e-cigarettes came along with no regulations and no rules to prevent them from getting into the hands of youths.
In a breathtakingly calculated move, the vaping industry devised the perfect formula to make vaping irresistible: It created candy-like flavors with names such as Gummi Bear and Frozen Blue Razz. Their brazen strategy paid off in spades.
We need to wake up to the fact that Hawaii’s youth are becoming addicted to vaping.
Raising the minimum age to buy vaping products to 21 is not enough. Even middle school kids can buy products online and sell them to their friends.
Flavors are what initially attract kids to vaping and other tobacco products. A ban on all flavors, including menthol, is the best way to ensure these products are not attractive to kids.
It’s up to us to look out for our children’s best interests. We need to push our legislators to take a comprehensive look at addressing the youth vaping crisis.
Our keiki deserve an addiction-free future.