Op-Ed | Tobacco control programs benefit our community

Young male worker smoking electronic cigarette
Currently in NYC, 13.3% of youth smoke combustible cigarettes while 15.2% use e-cigarettes.
Photo courtesy Getty

Throughout the years, tobacco control advocates have made great strides in decreasing youth smoking rates and educating communities on the negative influences of tobacco products especially amongst the youth.

Currently in NYC, 13.3% of youth smoke combustible cigarettes while 15.2% use e-cigarettes. These numbers are alarming, as tobacco use remains the No. 1 cause of death and disease in NYC. Flavored tobacco products have even become the most influential marketing tactic towards youth.

According to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2 out of 3 young smokers start with menthol or another flavored tobacco product. Menthol cigarettes are known as a “starter” product. Menthol cigarettes are known to give off a “cooling sensation” while smoking. This masks the harshness of the tobacco flavor and makes it easier for teens to start, but harder to quit.

Programs such as NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions have continued to help build awareness and educate local community members, leaders and youth on the dangers of tobacco use. Community based and local education efforts are essential, to raise awareness among youth of the dangers of all tobacco products and Big Tobacco’s influence within our communities.

The fact remains that more work still needs to be done as well as providing education to help reduce the high smoking rates among our youth populations and to help to prevent chronic health conditions related to tobacco use.

For more information on NYC Smoke-Free or to lend support in ending NYC’s devastating tobacco epidemic please visit www.NYCSmokeFree.org.

Vonetta Dudley is the youth engagement coordinator for Bronx Reality Check: NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions.

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