Last week, I was honored to be on a panel with NYC’s Commissioner of Health, Dr. Thomas A. Farley, at a day-long discussion sponsored by the New York Academy of Medicine and the NYU Global Institute of Public Health entitled, “Maintaining a Public Health Agenda During Political Change”. Joining me on the panel were Veronica White, Commissioner for NYC Department of Parks and Recreation; and the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene’s Associate Commissioner for External Affairs, Sam Miller, and Deputy Commissioner for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Susan Kansagra.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recently announced that the number of youth who have tried e-cigarettes doubled between 2011 and 2012. And one-tenth of high school students who admitted to using e-cigarettes currently also smoke traditional cigarettes.
Is this just the beginning? Will e-cigarettes just lead more kids to pick up a cigarette? Will we then see an increase in youth smoking rates next year? Given these new numbers, I’m concerned that e-cigarettes will only serve as nicotine starter kits for our youth.
Sold in dozens of candy and fruit flavors that appeal to kids, e-cigarettes are now available in most convenience stores. Retailers don’t need a license to sell them, and they are considerable cheaper than traditional cigarettes.
We’ve met many teenagers who support our work and understand nicotine addiction. Felipe Fernandez, a 19-year old smoker, talked with members of the NYC Coalition and feels strongly that we need to do everything we can to keep cigarettes away from kids.
Felipe and other high school students across New York City produced, A CLOUDED VIEW, a short film on teen smoking. In the film, Felipe explains why he thinks kids smoke: