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Health & Medicine

New Statewide Restrictions on Cigarette, Tobacco, Vaping Products to Reduce Nicotine Addiction

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With so much focus on one health crisis, you might have missed important changes on another health front.  New laws are trying to keep people from nicotine addiction.

The New York State Legislature thought it didn’t make sense to sell cigarettes and other tobacco products or flavored e-cigarette oils, many with nicotine, where people get prescription medication, many times to treat smoking-related illness.   

Starting last week, any store with a pharmacy can no longer sell any of the above.  Karyn Johnson is Program Coordinator of Tobacco Free CNY at the Onondaga County Health Department … and calls it a huge step to protect kids.

“The flavors in e-cigarettes are what attracts a lot of kids to these products.  So we hope by restricting the sales, we will see less kids interested in them.  We know that once they start using, the nicotine addicts them, and unfortunately the end up with a lifelong struggle with nicotine addiction.”

Some of the kids who start vaping and get hooked by nicotine switch to smoking cigarettes.  Johnson says removing the products from store aisles and shelves can reduce use … and not just for youth.

“We want youth to not be able to access them and also not see them because even seeing the products can increase usage.  But also we want to help those trying to quit because if they’re constantly seeing these products and the availability is easy to get, it’s harder to quit.” 

Past research from the surgeon general shows the more people see cigarettes or vaping products, the more likely they are to start or continue using them.  Also having fewer stores selling the products cuts down on availability … and further helps people quit or never start. 
(More resources to stop smoking here: TobaccoFreeNYS.org )

Later this year other laws to reduce availability go into effect … restricting online sales of vaping products.  Johnson would like to see a reduction in e-cigarette use because it’s impacts are unknown.

“There is some research that suggests their product use in youth … affect adolescent brain development.  These products are fairly new though, so we don’t know the long-term use, what that’s going to look like.  So that’s part of the reason why it’s important to restrict these products now, before we find out all this awful stuff and we didn’t know earlier.”

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Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News
Shoppers at drug stores and all other stores with pharmacies will not be able to buy tobacco or some vaping products.

Johnson adds recent surveys show about 27% of high school students have used e-cigarettes or similar devices, which she laments is a large percentage for such young people to be introduced to nicotine.  The ban on flavored vaping products, cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco, applies to all drug stores with pharmacies, but also other retailers such as large grocery stores or department stores in which there’s a pharmacy.