Healthy Living: Washington leads way in curbing teen tobacco use

Ahead of World No Tobacco Day on May 31, the state of Washington is helping lead the way in curbing teen tobacco use.  In April, the state legislators passed a bill which Governor Jay Inslee signed, raising the legal age to buy tobacco in Washington from 18 to 21-years-old.

Dr. Ari Gilmore with Pacific Medical Centers believes this will help some teens from picking up the dangerous and addictive habit.

"Over 90-percent of adults who smoke regularly started before the age of 21," said Dr. Gilmore.  "Additionally, it's going to get to that new vaping that's going on and reduce the access to that because that's what people are trying and unknowingly getting hooked on before they really know the health implications."

Dr. Gilmore says the health risks caused by nicotine are reversible almost immediately.  He says when someone stops smoking, their blood pressure goes down and within months the lungs begin to repair.  Once nicotine is out of the body, Dr. Gilmore says heart function improves and cancer risk over time is reduced.

Another concern about teen tobacco use centers on e-cigarettes and vaping products.  Dr. Gilmore says the nicotine in these products is highly addictive and teens often don't realize the health risks.  Experts say vaping products are harmful to young developing brains and can have long term health implications much like traditional tobacco products.