By Joey Boswell
Health Systems Coordinator, The Heart Network
New York State’s youth smoking rate has hit an all-time low — a cause for celebration and a reminder that we must stay vigilant in protecting kids and teens from the dangers of tobacco use.
The state Department of Health’s 2020 Youth Tobacco Survey found that less than 3 percent of high school students smoke, down a staggering 27.1 percent from 2000 — in fact, youth tobacco use was down across all product categories, including e-cigarette use. As state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker noted, this major decline in youth smoking is proof that tobacco control and cessation programs work.
Among the steps the state has taken to protect youth from the dangers of smoking — specifically e-cigarettes — are increasing the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21, ending the sale of flavored e-liquids, banning online sales of e-cigarettes to individuals, ending the sale of tobacco products at pharmacies, and eliminating the use of coupons that made vaping and tobacco products cheaper for youth.
Vaping, however, remains a significant threat to our youth. The Food and Drug Administration has gone as far as to label youth e-cigarette use an epidemic, and teens who vape are much more likely to pick up smoking than those who don’t. Fortunately, youth and young adults who are looking to quit vaping can access free state resources that can help — text “DropTheVape” to 88709, or contact the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS, or visit nysmokefree.com.
The Heart Network’s Health Systems for a Tobacco Free New York program works to disseminate resources and services to healthcare providers, with an end goal of increasing delivery of comprehensive, evidence-based treatment for nicotine addiction. To learn more about our work, or to find local resources, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.