Thursday, May 13 theme is focused on preventing youth tobacco use, especially looking at e-cigarette use and vaping, which in the past two years there have been some big swings in policy change federally and at the state level. Beginning in 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed regulations to ban the sale of flavored pods excluding menthol and tobacco flavors. This ban affected products like JUUL, Vuse, and, Blu which can all be found in our local stores and really jump started the use of e-cigarettes among young people. There are various reasons for this; the two biggest were the product being easily concealable by young people and secondly, flavors that young people like. This ban on flavored pods, seemed like a good response; unfortunately, it was limited to only pod systems and the industry reacted by creating disposable e-cigarettes like Puff Bar and Hyde, which were a one-time use product that, once people were done vaping, would be discarded. In May 2021, New York banned all flavored e-juice in all vaping products excluding tobacco and non-flavored e-juice. This ban closed the loophole in the FDA regulation and should have an overall positive effect on limiting young people from vaping. Unfortunately, in our area young people still have access to flavored e-juice by going to stores in Pennsylvania and the Seneca Territory. Even though the legal age to purchase tobacco products is 21, some stores will not check identification or decide to risk punishment to sell to underage youth. Once young people know which stores will sell tobacco products to them, the word travels quickly.
It is important for adults in young people’s lives to talk to them about e-cigarettes and vaping and all substances. Adults can educate themselves on what to look for to help them identify different types of e-cigarettes and known risks to help with the conversation.
Most people have argued, ”Well if young people are vaping, at least they are not using traditional cigarettes”. Vaping has scientifically been shown to be less harmful for adults, NOT youth. Studies have shown that the earlier young people start using an addictive product it is harder for them to quit and primes the adolescent brain to develop addiction to substances. Also, young people who vape are more likely to transition to smoking traditional cigarettes as they get older. We also do not know the long-term health risks of vaping, like we do with traditional cigarettes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that smoking is still the #1 cause of preventable death, killing over 480,000 Americans each year, and another 16 million Americans live with a smoking related disease. After looking at these stats and knowing that young people who vape are more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes, vaping at a young age is an important issue.
In Allegany County, if you have a young person who is using tobacco products and would like to quit, contact the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc.’s (ACASA) Ann Weaver for cessation services at (585) 593-1920, ext. 713. There are also online cessation resources below.
If you like to learn more about what communities can do to protect young people from becoming new daily smokers or encourage current smokers to quit visit Tobacco Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany.
Remember, Prevention Works!
National Prevention Week 585 Prevention Podcast with ACASA’s Community Educator Ann Weaver.