‘No butts about it’
To the editor:
We are writing to congratulate and thank you for your coverage of the increase in the minimum legal sale age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 in your Nov. 16 article, “No butts about it.”
Our organization, Adirondack Health Institute, manages a New York State Department of Health tobacco use reduction-related grant program, Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities/Reality Check. In addition, our North Country Population Health Improvement Program led a Tobacco Use Reduction Task Force that participated in the “It’s Time to Clear the Air in the North Country” educational campaign in support of raising the sale age. That task force included two organizations — the North Country Healthy Heart Network and Essex County Public Health — mentioned in your piece. It goes without saying we are all quite pleased with the new legislation and the positive impact it will most certainly have on the health of individuals in our communities.
Your article mentioned, “Governor Cuomo stated the legislation was partly motivated by the uptick in underage children vaping e-cigarettes.” Our Reality Check initiative, a youth-led, adult-supported program that works to counter the misleading marketing practices of the tobacco industry, has seen firsthand the recent exponential growth in student e-cigarette use and has been working diligently to counter that progression.
Your article stated, “e-cigarettes and other liquid vaporizers don’t contain tobacco and sometimes little to no nicotine.” In fact, one pod contains 20 to 40 cigarettes’ worth of nicotine. Your article goes on to say that “while vapes are generally marketed as a way to quit traditional smoking, many health groups think they are just a new vehicle for smoking.” Count us among those who concur with that belief. The fact is, students who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to start smoking cigarettes, and 90% of smokers begin before they turn 18. And of every three young smokers, one will die of tobacco use. Those are alarming statistics, to say the least.
While T-21 is a good first step in reducing social sources of tobacco products, there are many more factors that can impact young people’s use of tobacco products. As we move forward, it’s imperative we continue to educate the public on these factors. We are grateful for your support and look forward to your continued coverage of this important issue.
Population Health Improvement program manager
Adirondack Health Institute