New York State Department of Health

03/13/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/13/2017 10:38

Governor Cuomo Announces Record Low Youth Smoking Rate in New York

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State's high school student smoking rate in 2016 was the lowest on record at 4.3 percent, down from 27.1 percent in 2000. A survey recently released by the New York State Department of Health also found that e-cigarette use by high school students nearly doubled in the last two years from 10.5 percent in 2014 to 20.6 percent in 2016.

'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,' Governor Cuomo said. 'Combating teen tobacco use in all of its forms today will help create a healthier tomorrow for an entire generation of New Yorkers.'

According to a 2016 report by the U.S. Surgeon General, the number of high school students using e-cigarettes soared 900 percent between 2011 and 2015, becoming the most commonly used form of nicotine among youths. Due to their sweet flavor and the mistaken belief that they are not harmful to users, e-cigarette use continues to increase. The report also found that the use of e-cigarettes among youths and young adults is strongly associated with the use of other tobacco products.

Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker said, 'The rapid rise in e-cigarette use among youth and its dual use with cigarettes is a cause for great concern. We've had significant success in reducing smoking among young people in New York State. E-cigarette use by youth can be a gateway to nicotine addiction. We must continue to safeguard New York youth from the dangers associated with cigarette and e-cigarette use, both known and unknown.'

Governor Cuomo's FY 2018 Executive Budget proposes regulating e-cigarettes in a similar manner as traditional cigarettes to address growing concerns about the health impact of e-cigarettes. This would include e-cigarettes in the state's comprehensive indoor air law and impose a 10 cent per milliliter levy on vapor products, thereby reducing the affordability of vapor products for youth - the age group most sensitive to price.

Contrary to the belief that e-cigarettes are safe alternatives to cigarettes, studies show that e-cigarettes are not hazard-free. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive drug that can cause permanent changes in young, developing brains. Although combustible tobacco products contain more toxins than e-cigarettes, the aerosol produced by 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.

In May 2016, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration added nicotine-containing e-cigarettes to its definition of tobacco products, a position consistent with the New York State Department of Health, which also considers e-cigarettes a tobacco product. Since the emergence of e-cigarettes and other similar electronic nicotine delivery systems, the New York State Department of Health has incorporated e-cigarettes into existing tobacco control initiatives to prevent youth from starting tobacco use, reduce tobacco use in adults and eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. Click here for a list of stats by year provided by the State Department of Health.

For additional information on the New York State Tobacco Control Program, visit www.health.ny.gov/prevention/tobacco_control/program_components.htm. To learn more about e-cigarettes and youth, visit https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/default.htm.