This year’s Kick Butts Day is taking on a different meaning in New York and across the nation as the use of electronic cigarettes among youth rises to alarming rates. The youth smoking rate in New York is only 4.8 percent, but e-cigarette use is up to 27 percent, well above the national average of 20 percent.
Youth Advocacy director at the campaign for tobacco free kids Gustavo Torrez says most don’t realize e-cigs contain addictive nicotine.
"Kids who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become cigarette smokers. Truly, we are facing a serious epidemic of youth e-cigarette use here in the United States. Last year, youth e-cigarette use increased by 78 percent."
Torrez is worried the significant progress made on reducing tobacco smoking will be reversed by e-cigarettes. Some cartridges deliver as much nicotine as a pack of 20 tobacco cigarettes. Torrez says the other problem is the more than 15,000 flavors on the market designed to attract and hook kids.
"There's absolutely no reason why e-cigarettes should be sold in kid-friendly flavors like gummy bears, cotton candy, and mango. This is really why we think the best solution is for the FDA to ban flavored tobacco products nationwide."
Torrez says local and state laws restricting the sale of tobacco products to adults 21 and over are also helpful. He says 95 percent of adult smokers begin before age 21. But he worries youth will find ways to skirt the laws by lying about their age and acquiring the products online. More information and how youth can get involved is at tobacco free kids.org, kick butts day.org, and taking down tobacco.org