Democrat Fears ‘Epidemic Level Of E-Cigarettes’ As Smoking Rates Plummet

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Democratic officials in New York are up in arms over the growing mainstream popularity of vaping, with one lawmaker claiming there is an e-cigarette ‘epidemic’ in America.

Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey hosted a roundtable discussion for residents in Westchester and Rockland counties Wednesday on the supposed dangers of e-cigarettes and the threat they are allegedly posing to public health. Lowey spoke to students, teachers and health advocates on the topic, claiming e-cigarette manufacturers purposefully market their products to children in an effort to lure them to nicotine, reports lohud.

Anti-tobacco activists at the discussion said the emergence of vaping threatens to undo their work and jeopardizes their goal of a “tobacco-free generation.”

“There is really an epidemic level of e-cigarettes being used in the community,” Lowey said Wednesday, according to lohud. “I was really shocked to see how common this is — be it in school, near school, after school.”

While e-cigarette use briefly jumped when the products first became popular in 2011, trends suggest the novelty of vaping for teens is wearing off.

A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released June 15 revealed after a rapid increase in youth vaping between 2011 and 2015, teens are now giving up the habit. The number of middle school and high school students who use a vaping device dropped from 3 million to 2.2 million in 2016.

Proponents of vaping note the products contain nicotine, not tobacco, and say anti-smoking groups are ignoring the role the devices play in reducing the U.S. smoking rate.

A study from the University of California released July 26 showed that a record number of Americans are ditching cigarettes with the aid of vaping devices, bolstering the image of e-cigarettes as an important tool for improving public health.

Researchers found the rate of Americans quitting smoking jumped from 4.5 percent between 2010 and 2011 to 5.6 percent between 2014 and 2015. That means roughly 350,000 smokers gave up the habit between 2014 and 2015, which the researchers largely attribute to the rising popularity of vaping.

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