• September 19, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

City warns of middle school kids vaping

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:09 pm, Thu Sep 19, 2019.

One in 15, or around 13,000 New York City public middle school students last year reported using e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days, the Health Department said Tuesday.

E-cigarette use was higher among older students: 9 percent in seventh grade and 8.4 percent in eighth grade, compared to 2.6 percent in sixth grade. Known as vaping, e-cigarette use was much more common than traditional cigarette use among middle school students.

“Our data show that Big Tobacco is luring young New Yorkers into nicotine addiction with flavors that appeal to kids,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said in a prepared statement. “Adding the taste of bubblegum and cotton-candy to this unregulated product should not obscure how dangerous it can be.”

The agency’s data show that 14.4 percent of middle school students — about 29,000 students — had ever tried e-cigarettes. That number too was more common among older students. Only 5.6 percent of sixth-grade students had tried e-cigarettes, while 21.4 percent of eighth-grade students, or one in five, had tried e-cigarettes.

One pod of a popular e-cigarette brand, JUUL, can contain as much nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes. Nicotine can change the chemistry of the teen brain; it can worsen memory and concentration, decreasing learning ability. Along with nicotine, the aerosol from heated e-liquids can also contain harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene, which can cause caner; diacetyl from flavoring, which is linked to lung disease; and heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead. Bystanders can also breathe in such toxins.

Despite industry claims that e-cigarettes are only intended to help adults quit smoking, none have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for that purpose. In fact, youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to later try cigarettes. And in New York City, e-cigarette use is much more common among youth than adults. In 2017, one in six public high school students, or 17.3 percent, reported currently using e-cigarettes, compared to only 2.5 percent of adults. Flavors are among the top reasons for e-cigarette use among youth in the U.S. Kid-friendly sweet and fruit flavors, like cotton candy, crËme br˚lÈe and cool mint, make e-cigarettes seem appealing and harmless.

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