February
18

Trying to thread the needle of how to safely enable access to vaping products for adults seeking to quit cigarettes while keeping vaping products out of the hands of those under 21 is an effort that’s occupying researchers and policy influencers around the globe, with no easy solutions presenting themselves.

But The News went too far by dismissing the e-cigarette flavor ban and vaping marketing restrictions outlined in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2020 State of the State address as “executive overreach.”

New York State Department of Health data show that 40 percent of 12th grade students and 27 percent of all high school students in New York are now using e-cigarettes, an increase largely driven by flavored products.

 

We can’t, as a society, afford to sit back and let these trends continue.

Proposals by Cuomo and the State Legislature appropriately focus on the need of most immediate priority – intervening to prevent a new generation of young people from becoming addicted to nicotine. The proposed legislation continues to allow e-cigarettes to be sold to adults but reduces kid-friendly advertising and appealing flavors. That’s a public health win.

Time and rigorous science may show that e-cigarettes deserve a place in our strategies to protect public health. Our research teams at Roswell Park are doing studies to determine under what conditions, if any, e-cigarettes may help people quit cigarettes. The Surgeon General’s latest report on smoking cessation, issued last month, concluded that “the evidence is suggestive but not sufficient” that e-cigarettes with nicotine increase cigarette quit success. This report suggests that we’re not there yet.

Public policy should be adaptable, too, especially on such a fast-changing issue, and further regulation will be needed. But action is needed now to reverse the increasing trend of youth nicotine addiction. You can count me among those applauding the governor’s and Legislature’s proposals, which represent the most comprehensive statewide tobacco legislation New York State has ever adopted.

Andrew Hyland, Ph.D., is chairman of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of the New York State Smokers’ Quitline.