After years of downward trends in the use of tobacco products among high school youth in New York State, there has been a significant increase in the use of e-cigarettes. Data from the recently released New York State Department of Health’s Youth Tobacco Survey indicates that in New York State the use of e-cigarettes among high school youth continues to rise. Between 2014 and 2018, the rate increased fully 160%, from 10.5% to 27.4%. E-cigarettes remain the most commonly used tobacco product among youth surpassing cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and hookah.

An objective of the NYS Prevention Agenda was to reduce the prevalence of any tobacco product use by high school youth to 15% by 2018.

The use of electronic cigarettes or “vaping” among youth is a nationally recognized public health concern. According to the U.S. Surgeon General tobacco use among youth and young adults in any form, including e-cigarettes) is not safe. The U.S. Surgeon General’s report “E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults” states:

  • Nicotine exposure during adolescence can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain.
  • Adolescents and young adults who use e-cigarettes are at increased risk for starting smoking and continuing to smoke.
  • With or without nicotine, the aerosol produced by vaping is unsafe.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in New York. Studies show that comprehensive tobacco control works to save New Yorkers’ lives. “Putting an end to tobacco’s deadly impact on New York youth and adults is a multi-pronged approach,” according to Bonnie Peck, Reality Check/Youth Engagement Coordinator with Advancing Tobacco Free Communities in Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties (ATFC-DOS). “We focus our initiatives on protecting youth from nicotine addiction and reducing tobacco use among disadvantaged groups.”

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.

Since 2001, Reality Check youth have been working across New York State to educate community leaders and their peers about the manipulative tactics of the tobacco industry to recruit youth to become the next generation of replacement tobacco users. There are 25 Reality Check organizations covering every county of New York State. The NYS Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Control provides grant funds to the Research Foundation of SUNY at SUNY Cobleskill to implement the Reality Check program in Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties.   

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