While New York has seen a decline in tobacco use, there has been a remarkable increase in the use of electronic cigarettes within recent years. This recent development has spurred authorities to take immediate action.
In November 2017, New York Governor Cuomo signed a bill to add electronic cigarettes to the Clean Indoor Air Act. This move prohibits vaping in indoor spaces where tobacco smoking is also banned. Also, New York law states that only persons must be at least 18 years to buy tobacco products, although some jurisdictions have increased the legal age to 21. This decision was supported by the National Academy of Medicine 2015 report which stated that 90% of smokers began smoking before age 19. The Academy believes that raising the legal age will discourage adolescents and young adults from smoking.
Vaping in Schools
The vaping trend is also pervading the New York school system. The Surgeon General’s 2016 report revealed that from 2011-2015 there was a 900% increase in e-cigarette use among high school students. These alarming statistics have sparked major concerns, encouraging school officials to educate parents and students about the effects of smoking.
Schools have started to include discussions on vaping in their health and counseling curriculum. They are also urging parents to closely monitor their kids and observe any changes in behavior, grades, etc. Several challenges plague these schools as officials continue their campaign to control the use of e-cigarettes:
• Vaping products are easily accessible in stores and online. • Their packaging resembles flash drives, lipsticks, phones, and pens. • There are over 7700 e-liquid flavors that stimulate students’ curiosity. • E-cigarettes produce vapors that are often odorless, making them difficult to detect.
Within recent months, discussions have been focused on establishing zoning laws in New York to regulate vape shops. Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra, a representative for Philipstown, believes that the towns and villages should spearhead this initiative since they control the various zones. The Legislature’s Health and Environmental Committee is reviewing the concept.
Meanwhile, efforts continue to increase public awareness on the potential effects of traditional tobacco and e-cigarette use.