In recognition of Kick Butts Day, the Delaware County Council on Human Services (DCCHS) indicated they’d seen enough Big Tobacco marketing and pledged to help combat youth tobacco use.  Linda Wegner and Deyanira Cisneros from Advancing Tobacco Free Communities in Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties (ATFC-DOS) were guest speakers at the March meeting of DCCHS in Delhi and focused attention on the need to reverse the skyrocketing youth use of Juul and other e-cigarettes which have become the most popular tobacco products used by young people. Sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and advocacy in the fight against tobacco and helps increase awareness about the problem of tobacco use.

The average age of a new smoker in New York State is 13 years old. Ninety percent of adult smokers say they first tried smoking by age 18. E-cigarettes including Juul are addicting large numbers of youth to nicotine. Studies show youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes, including kids who never would have smoked at all. The high school smoking rate in New York State is the lowest it’s ever been – 4.3 percent in 2016; however, e-cigarette use doubled among high school students from 2014-2016, from 10 to 20 percent. Eighty-one percent of youth e-cigarette users started with a flavored product.

According to Kayla O’Dell of Northeast Parent and Child Society who co-chairs DCCHS, “Tobacco and e-cigarette companies see youth as ‘replacement smokers’ and use flavors to improve the taste, reduce the harshness and make their products more appealing to youth. We need to take action to create the first tobacco-free generation.”

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in New York State, killing 28,200 individuals every year. While the statewide New York State adult smoking rate is 14.2 percent, the smoking rates in Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties are higher: Delaware County-23.4 percent, Otsego County-19.7 percent and Schoharie County-18.1 percent.