New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Feb. 28 that his administration would be starting a free text message program to help kids get off electronic cigarettes.
New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker unveiled the initiative at a #NoVapeNY rally at the Wheatly Schoo, a public high school in Old Westbury, Long Island. Zucker was joined by the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, New York State PTA and Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes.
In association with the Truth Initiative, a non-profit organization that hopes to eliminate tobacco use, the NY State Department of Health has created an NYS-specific “DropTheVape” program geared specifically to teenagers, college students, and young adults. The program was created with the input of children between the ages of 13 and 17 and young adults between 18 and 24 and is designed to text those looking to quit age-appropriate messages.
To access the program, teens text “DropTheVape” to 88709. After enrolling, the recipients get interactive text messages, encouragement as they work toward a target quit date, and motivational messaging and coping strategies.
Cuomo has also proposed a ban on all flavored nicotine vaping products, including menthol, and a restriction on vaping ads aimed at younger consumers. Other parts of the legislation would regulate the sale of oils used in vaping, prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes via online, phone or mail order to consumers.
“The alarming increase in the number of young people using e-cigarettes is proof we need to curb this deadly epidemic before another generation develops lifelong nicotine addictions,” Governor Cuomo said. “That’s why we’re taking bold and aggressive actions to ban all flavored nicotine vaping products, end these unscrupulous vaping advertisements aimed at our kids, and offer teens a simple way to get help quitting vaping.”
The NY Department of Health said that 27 percent of all high school students in New York are using e-cigarettes and that 40 percent of 12th-grade students use them. In comparison, high school use in 2018 is 160 percent higher than it was in 2014, the department’s data showed.
“The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD) is proud to stand with Governor Cuomo’s office and NYS Commissioner of Health, Dr. Howard Zucker, as we work collectively to ban hazardous vaping products that are clearly targeting underage youth and producing devastating effects to the health and wellness of our young people,” said Steve Chassman, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.