UAB and Children’s of Alabama partner to decrease youth tobacco use, including electronic cigarettes, in Birmingham area

ADPH provides $80,000 to UAB investigator to learn more about teenagers’ tobacco habits.

smoking youthTobacco use in Alabama is higher than the national average, with one in every four Alabama high school students currently using tobacco, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Susan Walley, M.D., associate professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Pediatrics, received an $80,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Public Health to collect data on youth tobacco use in the Birmingham metro area. That data will drive policies designed to protect youth from tobacco use and tobacco smoke exposure. UAB will collaborate with Children’s of Alabama to educate middle and high school students in the Birmingham City School system and other area schools on the health risks of tobacco and smoke exposure.  

The grant will also focus on the health harms of electronic cigarettes, which has seen a surge among youth, with 2.4 million students in the United States reporting use in 2014.

“As a pediatrician, I am very concerned about the potential for electronic cigarettes to addict a whole generation to nicotine and tobacco,” said Walley, author of the American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement on electronic cigarettes. “Studies have shown that youth who use electronic cigarettes are more likely to go on to smoke conventional cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes also pose health risks to children from the secondhand aerosol, which is not merely ‘harmless water vapor,’ and is a poisoning risk from the concentrated electronic cigarette nicotine solution.”