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E-Cig Use Among NYS Youth Growing at Alarming Rate

Written By Editor on 5/15/18 | 5/15/18

Tobacco control measures have helped decrease the current smoking rate among adults in New York State to 14.2 percent. Unfortunately, the percentage of New York State youth who have ever tried and currently use e-cigarettes doubled from 2014 to 2016 according to the recently released NYS Youth Tobacco Survey. Electronic cigarettes and similar devices (also referred to as e-cigarettes, vape pens, Juuls, mods, and e-hookahs) are the most frequently used tobacco products among New York State youth. E-cigarettes typically deliver nicotine, flavorings and other additives to users via an inhaled aerosol.

Among middle school students, the rate increased from 6.9 percent to 14.1 percent and among high school students, the rate increased from 21.6 percent to 43.8 percent. The percent of youth who currently use e-cigarettes and similar devices, defined as past-30-day use, also doubled from 2014 to 2016. Among middle school students, the rate increased from 3.2 percent to 6.4 percent and among high school students it increased from 10.5 percent to 20.6 percent.

“After communicating with students and personnel in schools in the three-county region, we know e-cigarette use among youth and young adults is a major public health concern locally,” according to Linda Wegner, program director for Advancing Tobacco Free Communities in Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties (ATFC-DOS). ATFC-DOS educates the community and decision makers, mobilizes community members around the problems that tobacco addiction causes in local communities, and helps decision makers understand the types of choices that they have to address these problems. “It’s critical to protect local youth and adolescents from this preventable health risk.”

Bonnie Peck, Reality Check/Youth Engagement Coordinator with ATFC-DOS adds, “Nicotine has negative, long-lasting consequences for youth brain development. Studies show that e-cigarette use among youth is associated with both the intention to smoke cigarettes and subsequent cigarette smoking. We encourage individuals, institutions and communities to get the facts at and take action to help combat tobacco use and marketing.”

Almost all e-cigarette products sold in area convenience stores and similar retail outlets contain nicotine. With or without nicotine, e-cigarettes are not hazard-free and the inhaled emission may contain heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and other toxic chemicals. Exposure to secondhand e-cigarette aerosol is also harmful. E-cigarettes are available in a wide variety of flavors, including many that are particularly appealing to youth. More than 85 percent of e-cigarette users ages 12-17 use flavored e-cigarettes, and flavors are the leading reason for youth use. E-cigarette products can also be used as a delivery system for to marijuana and other illicit drugs. The nicotine in e-cigarettes and other tobacco products can prime young brains for addiction to other drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death and disease locally, in New York State and in the United States. The smoking rates in the Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie region are 22.9 percent for Delaware County, 26.3 percent for Otsego County and 19.3 percent for Schoharie County.

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