Newly released survey data taken from Davidson County residents suggests vaping is primarily popular among young adults. And for many of those who use e-cigarettes, it’s not yet an everyday thing.
But health officials worry that will change over time.
Vaping is still so new there’s not much data on how many people are doing it. So the Nashville Community Health and Well-being Survey represents some of the first concrete numbers for the city.
Only a small share of residents say they use e-cigarettes daily — less than 2%. But among adults under 30, a higher percentage are vaping than smoking cigarettes. Nearly one in 10 young adults say they vape at least on occasion.
Those are people who could easily get hooked, says the Metro Public Health Department's Tracy Buck.
"So you start out using in social situations and then you become an everyday user. And then you increase the amount of nicotine that you use," says Buck, community development director at Metro Health. "It just becomes this huge downhill slope that most people are not aware of."
Teenagers are particularly vulnerable, but they were not part of NashvilleHealth survey. Buck says the city’s health department is currently working with Metro Schools to collect data that should provide a first glimpse at how many Nashville teens are vaping.
Davidson County Smoking Figures Lower Than Expected
It's been two decades since Nashville conducted a health and wellness survey, so public health officials were eager to get back the data from NashvilleHealth's initiative.
The rate of traditional smoking surprised survey takers. Davidson County's estimated smoking rate has been put at higher than 20%. The results compiled by the University of Illinois at Chicago found a smoking rate of daily and occassional smokers at 13.2%.
Tobacco prevention coordinator Lillian Maddox-Whitehead credits recent smoke-free housing efforts.
"A lot of people have a choice to either move away from the properties that they live in, which they cannot afford [to do], or some of them may just bite the bullet and say, 'You know what, I need to just stop smoking,'" she says.
Wide disparities still exist in smoking, with nearly one in four residents without a high school diploma being considered smokers. Also geographically, more than 17% of East Nashville residents smoke, while the figure is less than 3% in the more affluent southwestern part of the county.