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South Nassau Communities Hospital Poll: 80 of Parents Think Vaping is Addictive

Eighty-five percent of metro area parents are concerned that kids under 18 are curious about vaping, which may suggest a need for more education about e-cigarettes.

Oceanside, NY, June 29, 2019 --( Eighty percent of parents think vaping is addictive, and 63 percent think that it is unsafe. And, when asked whether or not they support vape shops in their community, 56 percent of parents said they oppose them, and 32% support allowing them to open, according to the latest South Nassau "Truth in Medicine" Poll, sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union. Twelve percent answered they are not sure.

Eighty-five percent of metro area parents are concerned that kids under 18 are curious about vaping, which may suggest a need for more education about e-cigarettes and similar vaping products, their addictiveness and whether or not they are regulated by the government.

The New York State Department of Health has said that e-cigarette use is "a major public health concern" and notes that e-cigarette use among young people is at a record high. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018, nearly 1 of every 5 (20.8%) high school students reported that they had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. This is up from 1.5 percent in 2011.

"Our poll shows that parents in our area believe that our kids are just as curious about vaping as they are about marijuana and alcohol," said Aaron E. Glatt, MD, South Nassau's Department of Medicine Chair and Hospital Epidemiologist. "No matter how it is delivered, whether by traditional cigarette or through vapor, nicotine in any form is highly addictive and can harm brain development in teenagers and young adults."

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, while e-cigarettes can be an effective tool to help adult smokers quit and are a safer alternative for smokers than traditional cigarettes, which contain tar and most of the carcinogens associated with smoking, teens who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to try regular cigarettes. Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are an electronic device that produces an aerosol by heating a liquid. Usually these liquids contain nicotine and many are flavored. E-cigarettes can also be used for vapor forms of marijuana.

"There is increasing evidence that vaping itself impacts health," said Karen Wilson, MD, Vice-Chair of Clinical and Translational Research and Professor of Pediatrics at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Division Chief of General Pediatrics at Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital. "They can cause respiratory irritation, and cardiovascular inflammation, and have been linked to an increased risk of myocardial infarction in adults, even when tobacco smoking is taken into account. While e-cigarettes are promoted as 'harmless water vapor' they are actually an aerosol that contains not only nicotine, but also other potentially harmful chemicals. The long term impacts of exposure are still unclear, especially for teenagers who are vaping in large numbers and susceptible to addiction."

When asked which vice they believed was most dangerous for their children - marijuana, alcohol, or vaping - 58 percent of parents surveyed said that all are equally dangerous. Twenty-six percent selected alcohol, followed by marijuana at 7 percent, and vaping at 6 percent.

Scientists are still learning about the long-term impact of e-cigarettes, not only on brain development, but on our lungs and overall cardiovascular health.

Vaping has become increasingly controversial as studies reveal the addictive components of the liquid inside the vaping devices. The U.S. Surgeon General reported a 900 percent increase in vaping among middle and high schoolers between 2011 and 2015. Meanwhile, New York State's young people are smoking traditional cigarettes at a record low.

"We have made so much progress in educating our community about the dangers of smoking traditional cigarettes only to now have new generations of kids introduced to vaping and e-cigarettes without realized they are in danger of becoming addicted to nicotine," said Adhi Sharma, MD, South Nassau's Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President. "E-cigarette use does not prevent smoking. Teens and young adults who begin using e-cigarettes are likely to become addicted."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates tobacco products, but e-cigarettes are not regulated as strictly as cigarettes. In an effort to combat the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes, earlier this year, both houses of the New York State Legislature raised the legal age to buy cigarettes and vaping products from 18 to 21.

An alarming two-thirds of parents do not know whether or not vaping products are regulated by the government; only 13 percent think that they are regulated and 20 percent said they are not. Interestingly, almost one-quarter (22 percent) of parents in New York City and Long Island have vaped themselves.

"Vaping and the use of e-cigarettes is a major public health issue and I applaud our local legislators for pushing for legislative and regulatory reform," said Richard J. Murphy, South Nassau's president and CEO. "I am also proud of the success of South Nassau's 'Truth in Medicine' polls and would like to thank our sponsor for helping us raise public awareness around a number of key public health issues."

Poll results vary by race and other demographic indicators like whether or not residents live in the New York City or Long Island. Long Island parents think vaping is safer than parents in the city, but are slightly less likely to support vape shops in their community than New York City parents. Black parents are the most convinced vaping is unsafe.

Almost one-quarter (22%) of parents have vaped. While, there are no significant differences on the addictiveness of vaping by gender or even age, vaping itself is far more popular among parents age 18-35 than older parents. These same parents think vaping is safer than parents between age 36 and 59.

With increased public awareness and a continued partnership with our schools and local elected officials and community leaders, South Nassau can help parents talk to their kids about the dangers of nicotine and vaping.
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South Nassau Communities Hospital
Damian J. Becker

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