Addressing the Rising Tide: Urgent Call for NYC Officials to Tackle the Youth Vaping Epidemic Head-On

Addressing the Rising Tide: Urgent Call for NYC Officials to Tackle the Youth Vaping Epidemic Head-On

  • 29.10.2023 22:16

"Unmasking the Hidden Threat: NYC's Unregulated Smoke Shops Fueling the Youth Vaping Epidemic

In the bustling streets of New York City, an insidious issue has permeated the air, overshadowing even the pervasive scent of cannabis. Thousands of unlicensed smoke shops have sprouted like poisonous weeds, contributing to a concerning rise in youth vaping. Mayor Adams has voiced his concerns, not only about the prevalence of cannabis but also the alarming number of high school students attending classes under the influence. What intensifies this crisis is the clandestine sale of unregulated, flavored e-cigarettes, containing highly-addictive nicotine, in shops posing as "convenience stores."

Ironically, these sales violate laws established years ago. In 2019, New York City prohibited all flavored e-cigarette products, a move later echoed by the state in 2020 under New York State Law. Families, in collaboration with public health advocates, supported and successfully passed local Law 228 of 2019, outlawing these harmful products. The journey began when our families discovered that JUUL, an e-cigarette company, infiltrated our sons' private high school on the Upper East Side. Using an external anti-addiction group, unbeknownst to the school, JUUL assured ninth graders that its products were "totally safe." Post-presentation, the supposed educator demonstrated the JUUL, deeming it the "iPhone of vapes."

Appalled by JUUL's predatory tactics—utilizing flavors, influencers, and social-media marketing—we, alongside our co-founder Dina Alessi, delved into researching the issue. This revelation prompted the creation of our nonprofit, Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes (PAVe), in September 2018. Although it took another six months for the U.S. Surgeon General and the FDA to declare a "Youth Vaping Epidemic," countless companies followed JUUL's lead, perpetuating the crisis.

The repercussions of youth nicotine use are severe, impacting mental health, causing cognitive changes, and fostering addiction. The link between nicotine use and depression, anxiety, and impulse control is undeniable. Additionally, vaping poses a significant threat to children's developing lungs, contributing to health issues like asthma.

As we navigate this adolescent public-health emergency, it is imperative for NYC officials to address the regulatory gaps allowing the proliferation of these dangerous products. The future well-being of our youth depends on swift and decisive action to curb the rising tide of the youth vaping epidemic in the heart of the city."

"Guardians of Youth: A Call to Action Against the Growing Vaping Crisis

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The alarming truth unfolds as more than 2.5 million U.S. children are ensnared in the grip of regular vaping. According to CDC 2022 data, the epidemic has infiltrated our schools, with 1 in 5 high schoolers and 1 in 10 middle schoolers vaping during school hours. As we eagerly await the release of the 2023 CDC National Youth Tobacco Survey data, the fear lingers that these numbers will soar even higher. A troubling influx of cheap disposable vapes from China, particularly brands like Elf Bar (currently the most popular), compounds the crisis. These products contain unknown chemicals and toxins, elevated nicotine levels, and, in rare cases, even fentanyl. The cruel irony lies in China's ban on domestic sales of flavored e-cigarettes last year to shield its own children from nicotine addiction.

In the face of federal delays, enforcement failures, and exploitative loopholes by Chinese companies, a pressing question arises: Who is safeguarding America's children? Empowering parents becomes paramount; they must learn to identify the latest products, recognize signs of nicotine addiction, and engage in open conversations with their children about vaping, early and often. We extend online resources to guide parents through this challenging terrain.

Acknowledging the city's recent legal strides, with the Mayor announcing lawsuits against major vape distributors, is a positive step that we commend. However, more substantial action is imperative to combat unscrupulous vendors peddling perilous products to New York City's youth. In collaboration with the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, we proudly introduce POISON (Parents Opposing Illegal Sales of Nicotine), a grassroots program empowering volunteers to report retailers illegally selling flavored nicotine products in their communities. With increased funding, we aspire to expand POISON citywide and eventually nationwide.

The time for action is now. Mayor Adams, NYC Sheriff Anthony Miranda, and the NYC DOHMH must intensify their anti-vaping enforcement efforts, confiscating and responsibly disposing of illegal products (despite the environmental challenges posed by single-use plastic vapes and their lithium-ion batteries). Vaping demands recognition as a civic priority to safeguard the health of NYC's most precious asset—its young people.

Dorian Fuhrman & Meredith Berkman, Co-founders and Full-time Volunteers of Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes."

"In conclusion, the urgent need to address the escalating vaping crisis among New York City's youth demands united and resolute action. With over 2.5 million U.S. children ensnared by this alarming trend, our vigilance is paramount. As we anticipate the release of the 2023 CDC National Youth Tobacco Survey data, the potential for an even greater surge in vaping incidents looms large. The infiltration of cheap disposable vapes from China, laden with unknown substances and even fentanyl, adds a sinister layer to this public health emergency.

Empowering parents remains a critical linchpin in our collective response. The responsibility falls on them to discern the latest products, identify signs of nicotine addiction, and engage in proactive conversations with their children. Our online resources aim to guide parents through this complex landscape.

Commending the recent legal actions against major vape distributors by Mayor Adams, we acknowledge this positive stride. However, the battle against unscrupulous vendors selling hazardous products to the city's youth is far from over. The launch of POISON (Parents Opposing Illegal Sales of Nicotine), in collaboration with the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, marks a grassroots effort to enlist community volunteers in reporting illegal sales. With increased support, we aspire to expand POISON citywide and ultimately nationwide.

The time for decisive action is now. Mayor Adams, NYC Sheriff Anthony Miranda, and the NYC DOHMH must intensify anti-vaping enforcement, confiscating and responsibly disposing of illegal products. Despite the environmental challenges posed by single-use plastic vapes and lithium-ion batteries, the health of NYC's youth must take precedence.

In this pivotal moment, let us reaffirm our commitment to protecting the well-being of the city's greatest asset—its young people. Dorian Fuhrman and Meredith Berkman, as co-founders and full-time volunteers of Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes, stand firm in our dedication to this cause. Together, let us forge a path toward a safer and healthier future for the next generation."