Smoking and Health Action Coalition youth recently spoke with lawmakers at the state Capitol in Albany about the success of the Tobacco Control program at lowering the average smoking rate to 12.8% and the needs in tobacco control efforts, particularly among youth and certain communities.
Students met with state Sens. Rich Funke, R-55th District, and Joe Robach, R-56th District, as well as Assemblyman Harry Bronson, D-138th District. Reality Check is a youth-led, adult-sponsored group that counters the marketing practices of the tobacco industry.
“Successfully reducing the average adult smoking rate to 12.8% 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 Pittsford Mendon junior Anna Hauer, a Reality Check member. “We know that marketing attracts youth to e-cigarettes, and flavors are what gets them to try them. Nicotine is what keeps them addicted.”
During the meetings, students said cigarette smoking among high school youth statewide declined 82% between 2000 and 2018, but e-cigarette use by high schoolers continues to rise, now at 27%. In contrast, 3.8% of adult New Yorkers use e-cigarettes. Additionally, nearly 40% of 12th graders use e-cigarettes statewide. Research indicates that youth who use e-cigarettes are four-times more likely to start smoking conventional cigarettes than their peers who do not vape.
“Youth continue to have easy access to e-cigarettes, not fully understanding the consequences,” said Joseph Potter, Reality Check youth manager. “The rate of use is much higher than adult use. Allowing vape companies to control the conversation is very dangerous.”
While at the Capitol, Smoking and Health Action Coalition Reality Check youth talked with lawmakers about work being done in their local communities and provided a display in The Well of the Legislative Office Building.
“It was a pleasure meeting the young people who came to my office to advocate for an end to smoking and vaping,” Funke said. “Nicotine in any form is a horrible addiction and vaping has led to a spike in use among young people. I commend them for their passionate work to educate the public on the health risks associated with nicotine.”