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South Nassau "Truth in Medicine" Poll: Eighty percent of parents think vaping is addictive; 63 percent think it is unsafe

56 percent oppose vape shops in their community
85 percent are concerned their kids are curious about vaping

Posted: Jun. 25, 2019
South Nassau "Truth in Medicine" Poll: Eighty percent of parents think vaping is addictive; 63 percent think it is unsafe

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.”

E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes and deliverables. Flavored e-cigarettes have become increasingly popular, especially among young people as the flavors are often “kid-friendly.” One of the more popular brands is JUUL, an e-cigarette shaped like a USB drive, making it difficult for teachers and administrators to detect in schools. Local school districts are taking widespread measures to address the proliferation of vaping among students. For example, school officials in the Long Beach School District installed sensors in the middle and high school bathrooms to detect vaping.

In June 2018, Long Beach AWARE, a community-based nonprofit that works to combat underage drinking and drug use, held a Town Hall meeting to educate concerned parents about vaping—what to look for and what to do if and when you find that your child is vaping. They also work closely with the Long Beach School District on several initiatives aimed at curtailing vaping in the school setting.

“Long Island is not immune to the vaping epidemic. Communities, schools, and treatment professionals are struggling to find ways of dealing with vaping. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and our job is to deliver the facts,” said Judi Vining, Executive Director of Long Beach Aware.

Sales of JUUL have skyrocketed since mid-2017. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a single JUUL pod can contain as much nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes.

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.

In response to concern about vaping and lack of education in our community, local legislators are advocating for increased regulation of vaping product sales and advertising. Sen. John Brooks (D-Merrick) has several pieces of legislation pending in the New York State Senate to regulate the advertising and labeling of e-cigarettes and vaping products.

"As was the case in the early days of traditional tobacco cigarettes, companies selling vaping products are using positive imagery and compelling advertising techniques to fill the void of scientific consensus and intentionally sell unhealthy products to impressionable youth,” said Sen. Brooks. “Vaping is a public danger, especially for minors, and while the federal government drags its feet, it is crucial that we work on a state level to protect our children in NY from an industry that pushes poison-for-profit."

On June 11, the Town of Hempstead passed legislation that would regulate the advertisement of age-restricted products, including vapes, within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, playgrounds and duly licensed child day-care centers. The Town has also added vapes and e-cigarettes to the prohibitions at Town parks and required businesses that sell vapes and e-cigarettes to post signage clearly informing those purchasing of the potential health hazards of the product.

“Vape companies want to make money off our children despite the health consequences,” said Town of Hempstead Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney. “These companies attract youth to their addictive substances and drug delivery devices by disguising the products as ‘cute’ and ‘trendy.’ The Town of Hempstead is going after these companies with a vengeance.”

“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.”

The South Nassau Truth in Medicine Poll, sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union, is a quarterly survey of 600 Long Island and New York City residents that aims to gather data about attitudes on key public health topics and help spur public education to improve public health. The poll was conducted via both landlines and cell phones from April 11-17 of 600 parents of at least one child under 18 in New York City and on Long Island.

“Bethpage is committed to working with South Nassau on this important program that educates parents in our community about the dangers of vaping,” said Linda Armyn, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Bethpage.

The Truth in Medicine Poll was conducted as part of the hospital’s mission of improving education around critical public health issues. The poll was conducted by a nationally recognized, independent polling firm, LJR Custom Strategies, which has offices in Washington, DC and New Orleans, LA. LJR has conducted more than 2,000 studies for a broad spectrum of health care, business, education, cultural, and political clients in almost every state in the country and around the world.

South Nassau began conducting the public health poll in January 2017. This is South Nassau’s second public health poll of 2019. Previous polls have focused on the HPV vaccine, the legalization of recreational marijuana, vaccines and supplements, antibiotic use and misuse, screen time and others. For more information about the polls, please visit southnassau.org/truth.

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.

The Long Island flagship hospital of the Mount Sinai Health System, South Nassau® Communities Hospital is designated a Magnet® hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for outstanding nursing care. South Nassau is one of the region’s largest hospitals, with 455 beds, more than 900 physicians and 3,500 employees. Located in Oceanside, NY, the hospital is an acute-care, not-for-profit teaching hospital that provides state-of-the-art care in cardiac, oncologic, orthopedic, bariatric, pain management, mental health and emergency services.

In addition to its extensive outpatient specialty centers, South Nassau provides emergency and elective angioplasty, and offers Novalis Tx™ and Gamma Knife® radiosurgery technologies. South Nassau operates the only Trauma Center on the South Shore of Nassau County verified by the American College of Surgeons as well as Long Island’s only free-standing, 9-1-1 receiving Emergency Department in Long Beach. South Nassau also is a designated Stroke Center by the New York State Department of Health and Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons; is an accredited center of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Association and Quality Improvement Program; and an Infectious Diseases Society of America Antimicrobial Stewardship Center of Excellence.

The hospital has also been awarded the Joint Commission’s gold seal of approval for disease-specific care for stroke, hip and knee replacement, heart failure, bariatric surgery, wound care and end-stage renal disease.  For more information, visit www.southnassau.org.