Officials seek to reduce youth vaping – Oneida Dispatch

E-cigarettes appear on display at a vape store. (AP FILE PHOTO)

ONEIDA, N.Y. — The New York State Department of Health announced recently that it is increasing its efforts to reduce vaping among youth with the end goal of eliminating it entirely. Local leaders agree with their efforts.

Health officials say across New York State, 18.7 percent of high schoolers vaped in 2022. A national survey from the same year among youth who vape found that more than half of respondents intend to quit.

“Vaping is a national problem and not just a local issue,” Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood said.

Oneida First Presbyterian Pastor Steven Yeoman said vaping is among the issues he and other local clergy seek to address as part of their community outreach.

“There’s a lot of temptation to get involved in vaping, starting with the amount of vape stores in the area,” he said. “It’s gotten worse now that the Oneida Indian Nation has introduced another vaping and e-cigarette store near the casino.”

Oneida has four head shops within city limits.

State DOH officials say E-cigarettes are by far the most used tobacco product by high school students in New York State. Among high school students, nearly 18.7 percent reported vaping nicotine compared to a record low of 2.1 percent who reported smoking cigarettes in 2022. There is some evidence that current vaping among youth could lead to future cigarette use.

The New York Youth Tobacco Survey says e-cigarette usage has declined from 27.4% in 2018 to 18.7% in 2022. That’s a 32% drop.

Oneida City Supervisor Brandee DuBois, who works as a nurse at Oneida Health and the school district, said help is available among school staff for those seeking to quit. “Check with the school guidance counselor,” she said.

DOH officials quote a national survey that says middle school and high school students said they first tried an e-cigarette because a friend used it and because of curiosity. Youth who continue to vape say their most common reasons for using e-cigarettes are they feel anxious, stressed, or depressed, or to get a high or buzz from the nicotine.

“The dangers of e-cigarettes is the amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, contained in them,” Hood said. “The amount of THC in a marijuana cigarette could be as low as three percent. In e-cigarettes that can be increased by adjusting the controls on the device to eighty or ninety percent.”

A recent study showed that THC-dominant joints delivered a total of 19 to 28 milligrams of THC per cigarette, the CBD-dominant versions each delivered 90 to 100 mg of CBD, 200 to 400 percent more of the dominant cannabinoid.

The DOH also says most e-liquids contain nicotine, the highly addictive chemical in all tobacco products. Nicotine can harm the developing brains of adolescents and young adults, which can lead to lower impulse control and mood disorders, disrupt attention and learning among youth and young adults, and increase the risk for future addiction to other drugs.

“I would tell any student or young adult to be cautious about taking anything offered to them,” Hood said. “You don’t know what you’re getting.”

E-cigarettes also take a physical toll on their users. “Experts say these devices lead to the early development of popcorn lung,” Yeoman said. “This doesn’t happen in someone who smokes regular cigarettes until they’ve been smoking for several years.”

Popcorn lung is a serious lung disease that causes coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, similar to the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Over time, it can lead to scarring of the lungs’ tiny air sacs and thickening and narrowing of the airways.

A chemical called diacetyl, found in many e-cigarette flavors, are among its causes. Popcorn lung is irreversible, but symptoms may be managed with proper treatment. This includes stopping vaping.

“These products are harder to detect,” Hood said. “They are, among other things, marketed to have fruity scents. This is different than the smell of tobacco smoke and easier to disguise.”

A much larger percentage of youth and young adults use e-cigarettes compared to older adults.

To help young people quit the use of e-cigarettes, the DOH and the New York State Education Department are working together to provide students with materials that will inform them about the free services available to help them successfully quit vaping.

“Exposure to nicotine during adolescence can cause addiction and damage to the developing adolescent brain, lungs, and overall health,” State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said in the release. “The department remains committed to decreasing vaping among young people and providing them with the resources that will help keep them informed, healthy, and safe.”

DOH has developed posters, palm cards, and rack cards for middle schools and high schools/young adults, in both English and…

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