New York Makes Major Decision About E-Cig Use In Schools

By Britni de la Cretaz 07/27/17

Governor Cuomo announced a new measure aimed at fighting teen smoking. 

teen holding modern e-cig device mouthpiece in mouth

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that the state is banning all electronic cigarette use in public and private schools. The decision comes as e-cig use among young people is on the rise and regulations for the devices are being implemented.

According to a statement released by the governor’s office, "Nicotine use in any form has shown to be damaging to teens and this measure will close a dangerous loophole that allows e-cigarettes to be used in New York schools. This measure will further this administration's efforts to combat teen smoking in all its forms and help create a stronger, healthier New York for all."

Last December, the United States Surgeon General declared e-cigarette use among young people “a major public health concern,” noting that between 2011 and 2015, use of e-cigs among teens had increased 900%, and tripled between 2013 and 2014 alone. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), boys are twice as likely to use them as girls are. 

The use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, involves the atomization of a nicotinated propylene glycol solution, or e-liquid. At a December 2016 press conference, then-Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy said, “Adolescent brains are particularly sensitive to nicotine’s effects,” noting that it can cause “a constellation of nicotine-induced neural and behavioral alterations.”

Research has shown that e-cigarettes are not as safe as previously thought, and that all of them emit harmful chemicals including formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Not only that, but the chemicals inhaled by e-cigarette users can cause asthma, cancer, stroke, and heart disease—i.e. they're not really the safer alternative to cigarettes that many advertisers have promised. 

This is concerning, especially since teens who vape are more likely to begin smoking cigarettes than teens who don’t. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu showed that among non-smoking students who had tried vaping at the time of the survey, 20% said they had smoked their first tobacco cigarette when they took the survey a year later. But only 6% of students who had never vaped in the first place had tried cigarettes a year later. “E-cigarettes had a risk-promoting effect for onset of smoking,” said researchers.

According to Spectrum News, Cuomo announced the results of a Department of Health survey that found that e-cig use among New York high schoolers had nearly doubled in the last two years—10.5% in 2014 to 20.6% in 2016.

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.