To the editor:
While teen cigarette smoking rates have been on the decline in New York City and New York State, there is a new trend on the rise: e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are handheld electronic nicotine delivery systems that give off the sensation of smoking a traditional cigarette. There is much concern about youth usage of e-cigarettes because from 2014 to 2016, the use of this product among high school students doubled from 10.5 percent to 20.6 percent, according to the city’s health department.
E-cigarettes and other electronic delivery systems are heavily marketed to youth. The tobacco industry is using the approaches that were banned for cigarettes in the 1990s to tackle youth-targeted marketing. These companies will not stop to ensure their line of “replacement smokers” continues to grow.
Many people are unaware that e-cigarettes are considered tobacco products because they contain nicotine, which comes from tobacco. Nicotine is a dangerous and addictive substance that can harm adolescent brain development. Use of e-cigarettes is also strongly linked to the use of other tobacco products, which include traditional cigarettes, cigars, hookah and smokeless tobacco.
This link is especially apparent among the youth population.
E-cigarettes, just like traditional cigarettes, are easily accessible to youth at local convenience store, and very visible in the media. We don’t need more ways and access points for our youth to become hooked on tobacco products.
As we have seen over the past decade in New York, conventional smoking rates and tobacco product usage has declined due to comprehensive tobacco control efforts. Our efforts should include educating youth about the harms of products like electronic delivery systems, and how the tobacco industry uses manipulative marketing tactics to get people to use them.
Public Health Solutions has programs like NYC Smoke-Free Reality Check that help to address these concerns and get youth to take action against and raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco products in their schools and communities.
For more information, or to lend your support, visit NYCSmokeFree.org.
The author is the Bronx Reality Check Youth engagement manager for NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions.