Teen smoking is down, but a troubling trend

Study:Smoking Down, Ecigs Up Among NY Teens

ALBANY -- Cigarette smoking is out, but e-cigarettes are in.
 
Smoking among high-school students in New York fell to its lowest level on record, but there has been rapid rise in their use of e-cigarettes, a survey of students by the state Health Department found.
 
The survey released Monday showed the high school student smoking rate in 2016 was the lowest on record at 4.3 percent, down from 27 percent in 2000.
 
But the use of e-cigarettes skyrocketed: Nearly 21 percent of students said they used e-cigarettes last year compared to 11 percent who said they did so in 2015, the survey said.
 
"These startling numbers demonstrate both the overwhelming success of New York's anti-smoking programs – which have led to record ‎low teen cigarette use – and the need to close dangerous loopholes that leave e-cigarettes unregulated," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Monday.
 
The survey in New York mirrored a report last year from the U.S. Surgeon General that found e-cigarette use among high schoolers soared 900 percent between 2011 and 2015.
 
Besides the health concerns with e-cigarette use, it can also lead to the use of other tobacco products -- and e-cigarettes are increasingly marketed to attract young users, health officials warned.
 
"E-cigarette use by youth can be a gateway to nicotine addiction," Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner, said in a statement.
 
"We must continue to safeguard New York youth from the dangers associated with cigarette and e-cigarette use, both known and unknown."
 
The state has sought over the years to curb the growth in e-cigarettes.
 
In 2015, the Democratic-led Assembly passed a bill to ban e-cigarette use indoors, but it was rejected in the Republican-controlled Senate.
 
This year, Cuomo is proposing in his budget for the fiscal year that starts April 1 a series of measures on the issue.
 
He wants a ban on indoor e-cigarette use in public spaces and to impose a a 10 cent per milliliter levy on vapor products.
 
"Studies show that e-cigarettes are not hazard-free," Cuomo's office said in a news release. "Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive drug that can cause permanent changes in young, developing brains."
 
Also, the Health Department said, that while tobacco products contain more toxins than e-cigarettes, the aerosol from e-cigarettes "is not a harmless water vapor. Studies show the aerosol contains ultrafine particles that have been linked to lung disease; heavy metals such as tin, lead and nickel; and volatile organic compounds such as benzene and toluene."
 
 

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