Maui News

Survey Finds Maui Has Highest Rate of Teen Vaping in State

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The Hawaiʻi State Department of Health has launched a new program to educate parents and teens about the health risks of vaping. Art Courtesy: DOH

A survey conducted in 2019 with 5,600 teens in Maui County showed 13.3% had tried vaping before they were 13-years old, the highest rate in Hawaiʻi, according to the State Department of Health.

The survey also found 4% of middle schoolers and 43% of high schoolers who have never vaped reported at least one of their four closest friends uses e-cigarettes. 

To address this problem, the Department of Healthʻs “Escape the Vape” is launching a new ad and teen sensation program to inform teens and parents about the risk of vaping. 


“The start of the school year is a crucial time for education around vaping and its harmful effects,” said Lola Irvin, DOH Administrator of the Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division. “We’re finding that many teens experiment with vaping as a way to bond with their friends, and then some of them end up addicted to nicotine. The research shows that young people can become addicted more quickly to nicotine than adults, and nicotine dependency can greatly increase irritability and anxiety.” 

Two new Escape the Vape Hawai‘i ads have been developed with input from local teens. The ads focus on the specific health detriments of nicotine to help shift teen perception of the risks associated with vaping.

The first ad, which aired earlier this summer, explains how nicotine in vapes can affect brain function, leading to reduced impulse control, difficulty with attention and memory, and mood disorders. The second ad, which will air in late-September, focuses on the social aspects of nicotine addiction.  


The ads explain itʻs not “just water vape” but the vape juice and aerosol contain many dangerous chemicals, including formaldehyde, commonly used to preserve the dead.

To develop the ads, the Department of Health interviewed 70 teens from multiple islands in March  2020 to learn more about youth vaping. During the interviews, teens said they tend to share and trade vapes at school, and a majority of the teens noted that they get or buy vapes from their friends.

“Vaping is a way for people to not feel left out in a group and socialize,” one teen said.  


The Hawaiʻi Tobacco Quitline also is offering My Life, My Quit, a free program with trained coaches to help youth up to 17-years old quit smoking or vaping. Teens can sign up by texting “Start my Quit” to 36072 or calling 855-891-9989. Parents, guardians and health care providers can also call or visit for more information. 

Escape the Vape Hawai‘i will run on TV, radio and social media platforms. Learn more about vaping risks at or look for Escape The Vape Hawai‘i on Facebook and Instagram.  


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