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Youth smoking rate on decline group says

JAMESTOWN — Tobacco-Free Chautauqua Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties confirms that The New York State Department of Health announced this month that New York State’s youth smoking rate has reached an all-time low. As of 2020, less than 3% of high school students smoke cigarettes, down from 27.1% in 2000. The Youth Tobacco Survey (YTS) recently released by the Department also found that youth tobacco use was down across all tobacco product categories, including a drop in e-cigarette use for the first time.

Ken Dahlgren, Outreach Coordinator for TF-CCA, attributed a large part of the good news to the tireless efforts of tobacco control partners and concerned citizens across the State, especially local efforts. “Chautauqua County has been a leader in this fight for more than 20 years against commercial tobacco’s tactics which have addicted our young people,” emphasized Dahlgren. Dahlgren also stated, “Chautauqua County was one of the early leaders in New York to pass Tobacco 21 regulations, and currently has a well-established coalition of professionals from TF-CCA, The Chautauqua County Health Dept, The Resource Center, Prevention Works, E2CC BOCES and others who are working to deal with e-cigarette and nicotine addiction issues with our school age youth.”

“These milestones demonstrate the overwhelming success of New York’s tobacco control program in reducing cigarette smoking among young people in New York State, and we will continue to take evidence-based action to safeguard New York youth from the nicotine addiction that tobacco products can cause. Smoking any substance can cause serious health problems,” Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said. “In 2019, we increased the minimum age to buy tobacco and vaping products from age 18 to 21, and in 2020, we ended the sale of flavored e-liquids, stopped the online sale of e-cigarettes to individuals, stopped the sale of tobacco in pharmacies and eliminated the use of coupons and other price promotions that made vaping and tobacco products cheaper and more easily accessible to youth.”

Studies show that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking cigarettes than those who do not vape nicotine. In New York State, e-cigarette use among high school age students increased 160% between 2014 and 2018. Between 2018-2020, the rate of e-cigarette use among high schoolers dropped by 18%.

In 2020, the Department of Health partnered with Truth Initiative to create a NYS-specific version of their text-based intervention, “This is Quitting.” This innovative, free, and anonymous text message program was created with input from teenagers, college students, and young adults who have attempted to or successfully quit vaping. Tailored to specific age groups (13-17 and 18-24) to give age-appropriate quitting recommendations, New York State youth can text “DropTheVape” to 88709 to access the program.

Enrollees in the program receive interactive daily text messages tailored to their sign-up date or their target quit date, should they choose to set one. Messages include encouragement, motivation, tips, skill, and self-efficacy building exercises, and coping strategies. The program also directs users to the New York State Quitline, which provides free and confidential quit coaching for people who vape or smoke, and free starter kits of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to eligible New Yorkers to help them break their dependence on smoking or vaping tobacco.

New Yorkers aged 13 to 24 who want to stop vaping can enroll in the free and anonymous text messaging program by texting “DropTheVape” to 88709. New Yorkers of all ages can contact the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NYQUITS (1-866-697-8487) or visit http://www.nysmokefree.com for free and confidential smoking and vaping quit services and to determine their eligibility to receive free starter kits of NRT.

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