Tobacco use has become a common part of the lifestyle for too many American teenagers. A recent report by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Product (CTP) states that while traditional cigarette smoking rates among youth have declined, hookah use has doubled and e-cigarette use has tripled since 2013. This is an alarming and disturbing trend.
Tobacco use is the number-one killer in America. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have over 1 million smokers in New York City. In the Bronx, 16.1 percent of adults and 7 percent of the youth are current smokers, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DHMH) Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2013. The Bronx ranks number 62 — last — out of New York State’s 62 counties in health indicators. It’s likely smoking and other tobacco products like cigars, hookah, e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco may have a large impact on this.
Youth are being overly exposed by tobacco companies to purchase and use their products. In the Bronx, 3,000 public high school students smoke, according to the DHMH survey. If our teens, who are labeled as “replacement smokers” — what the tobacco industry calls youth to replace the thousands of smokers who die each year — continue the use of cigarettes and other new and traditional tobacco products, our numbers will not change.
Tobacco companies are very strategic in how they market their products towards youth. Tobacco sales displays, with their colorful arrays of tobacco product packaging, are placed in local stores and bodegas, many found near our Bronx schools and youth centers to lure our teens to purchase and use tobacco products. Of Bronx public high school students 38.7 percent of females and 30.4 percent of males have reported purchasing cigarettes from a local store, according to the DHMH survey.