Youth ambassadors speak out against teenage tobacco use

JOHNSTOWN — Advancing Tobacco Free Communities of Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery Counties and Reality Check youth from Fulton County were at the state Capitol on Feb. 4 talking with lawmakers.

They discussed the success of the state’s Tobacco Control Program at lowering the average smoking rate to 12.8 percent and the unmet needs in tobacco control efforts, particularly among youth and certain communities.

They met with Assemblyman Robert Smullen, Sen. George Amedore, Sen. James Tedisco and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara.

During the meetings they stressed that cigarette smoking among high school youth statewide declined 82 percent between 2000 and 2018, but e-cigarette use by high schoolers continues to rise, now at 27 percent. In contrast, only 3.8 percent of adult New Yorkers use e-cigarettes.

Additionally, nearly 40 percent of 12th-graders use e-cigarettes statewide. Research shows youth who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to start smoking conventional cigarettes than their peers who do not vape.

“Successfully reducing the average adult smoking rate to 12.8 percent in New York State is a significant achievement, but new and emerging nicotine products—like e-cigarettes—could reverse the substantial gains we’ve made in reducing smoking,” said Sarah Kraemer, Reality Check coordinator.

“We know marketing attracts youth to e-cigarettes, and flavors are what gets them to try them. Nicotine is what keeps them addicted,” she said.

By Kerry Minor

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