In a press release dated June 8, 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the prevalence of smoking among high school students has dropped to an all-time low of 7.3 percent. While these findings suggest that New York State Bureau of Tobacco Control strategies to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use among youth are working, the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey reveals new cause for concern. According to that study, the percentage of high school students using e-cigarettes (vaping) during the 30 days prior to the survey tripled between 2013 and 2014, increasing from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014. The survey also found that hookah use nearly doubled during that same timeframe, increasing from 5.2 percent in 2013 to 9.4 percent in 2014. In other words, more youth reported using e-cigarettes or smoking hookah than smoking cigarettes.
“Increased use of e-cigarettes among youth is a disturbing trend,” says Kimberly Cummins, Reality Check Program Coordinator for Tobacco-Free Clinton Franklin and Essex. “We are finding that the density of e-cigarette retailers has increased greatly, between licensed tobacco retailers who now sell the products along with unlicensed e-cigarette stores.” Kimberly explains that e-cigarettes are problematic because the device is attractive to youth, not to mention they come in a variety of flavors such as chocolate, fruit punch, and bubble gum that entice kids to start. “These products, many of which are owned by big tobacco companies, have unknown health consequences and undermine tobacco control work by creating the foundation of nicotine addiction.”
Through Reality Check, Kimberly works with youth to help them see how big tobacco companies have worked to get young people addicted to their product. For more information, please call Tobacco-Free CFE at 518-310-3723.