LIVINGSTON COUNTY – Data from New York State’s 2014 youth and adult tobacco surveys shows an increase in the number of high schoolers using recently developed electronic cigarettes, and suggests that more high school students now smoke e-cigarettes rather than traditional cigarettes.
According to a press release from Tobacco-Free Genesee for Genesee, Livingston, Ontario and Wyoming counties (TF-GLOW) funded by the New York State Department of Health and Bureau of Tobacco Control, 10.5% of high school students and 12.7% of young adults ages 18-24 use e-cigarettes, almost double the 6.5% rate of e-cigarette use among adults 25 years and older.
“This new data are alarming because we know that e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems can establish, maintain and strengthen nicotine addition,” said Kevin Keenan, TF-GLOW Community Engagement Coordinator. “At a time when cigarette smoking rates among New York youth, young adults and adults are at all-time lows, we certainly don’t want to see an increase in other forms of nicotine use.”
TF-GLOW says that e-cigarettes are rising in popularity, both in stores and online. The battery-powered devices heat a solution of flavored liquid nicotine and other additives to create an emission that users inhale.
Of particular concern to TF-GLOW is that more than 50 percent of high school students and young adults who are current smokers are using both cigarettes and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), which is defined as dual use. Dual use exposes developing adolescent brains to more nicotine and may reinforce addiction. Nicotine use by adolescents has been shown to disrupt developing cognitive abilities, like judgment and reasoning at key periods during their lifetime.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently does not regulate e-cigarettes or the hundreds of differently flavored nicotine liquids used in them. These products do not burn tobacco, but evidence is accumulating that they contain and emit toxins, including cancer-causing formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.
“Smoking e-cigarettes is more and more popular with kids at my school,” said Aubrianna Weber, age 16, of Olean, the Reality Check 2015 Western New York State Youth Advocate of the Year. “We don’t want to live with tobacco, or any other smoking, in our communities.”
The youth are especially vulnerable to experimenting with tobacco, and the majority of adult smokers began smoking when they were teens. Efforts to reduce youth smoking have recently begun to demonstrate positive results. Teen smoking rates have dramatically decreased due to efforts, which make it difficult for teens to buy cigarettes.
“This new information about e-cigarette use in New York State should further strengthen our resolve to make our communities tobacco free,” said Keenan. “We deserve to live free of tobacco and nicotine use, and our future generations deserve it.”
Every year, approximately 28,000 New Yorkers die prematurely because of cigarette use. Nearly 570,000 New Yorkers have serious diseases directly attributable to smoking, including lung and oral cancers, heart disease, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smoking is a major cause of multiple cancers, of heart disease and stroke, and is the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. This adds up to $10.4 billion in medical costs that are attributed to tobacco and smoking every year in NY State.
Tobacco-Free Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming is funded through the and is a part of Tobacco-Free Western New York, managed by Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
You can learn more about Tobacco-Free Western New York at tobaccofreewny.org. And for more information about the services available through the New York State Smokers’ Quitline, please visit www.nysmokefree.com