For the editor:
Despite positive progress in recent years, youth smoking remains a significant public health risk.
In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the 2021 National Youth Smoking Survey. Although smoking remains the number one cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States, companies continue to aggressively market products to teens – a problem compounded by the prevalence of flavored e-cigarettes.
Across the country, approximately 2.55 million middle and high school students reported using tobacco products in the first half of 2021 – a figure that was all the more alarming given that many schools were still closed due to the pandemic. COVID-19 pandemic. Of these 2.55 million children, more than 2 million have used electronic cigarettes.
In his statement on the investigation, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids President Matthew L. Myers rightly noted that this figure underscores why the FDA needs to act to eliminate flavored products from the market: “In addition to reducing overall youth tobacco use, eliminating flavored tobacco products will help reduce disparities in tobacco use identified in the NYTS, including higher rates of youth tobacco use. LGBT and higher rates of combustible tobacco use, particularly cigars.” use among young blacks. These groups have been targeted by the tobacco industry with the marketing of flavored products, including menthol cigarettes.
The silver lining of the survey is the continued decline in youth smoking – just 1.9% of respondents said they smoked. This historically low youth smoking rate means we can make progress in curbing e-cigarette use.
The Heart Network’s Health Systems for a Tobacco Free North Country program partners with healthcare providers, behavioral health organizations and public health agencies to reduce the prevalence of smoking in our communities. To learn more, visit heartnetwork.org. For resources to help you quit smoking, visit the New York State Quit Smoking Helpline at nysmokefree.com or call 1-866-NY-QUITS.
Health systems for a tobacco-free northern country