By Joel Feroleto
The rise of vaping is a real emergency in the Buffalo region and beyond. We know that some e-cigarette users have suffered health issues, including severe pulmonary disease. That’s why, back in September, I filed a resolution asking the Buffalo Law Department to put a moratorium on new vape shops opening in the city.
Taking a local stand isn’t enough. Even though Buffalo has taken a stance on this public health scourge, too many young people continue to use these dangerous devices. Across the country, more than one in four high school students and more than one in 10 middle school students use e-cigarettes, with close to 100 percent reporting that they use flavored products. In New York State alone, youth e-cigarette use increased 160 percent between 2014 and 2018.
Unfortunately today, leadership in Washington is not doing enough to ensure young people can’t easily access these addicting drugs. And make no mistake – these drugs are addicting. One Juul pod contains as much nicotine as 20 traditional cigarettes.
Moreover, exposure to nicotine can have a significant impact on adolescents’ brains at a critical juncture in their development. It can affect their memory and ability to learn and permanently lower their impulse control.
To end this national emergency, we need a leader tough enough to stand up to the vaping industry. Fortunately, we have a Democratic presidential candidate who is up for this enormous undertaking: Mike Bloomberg.
Mike has already shown us he isn’t willing to use our kids as guinea pigs for the tobacco industry. When he was mayor of New York City, he banned the use of tobacco products indoors at bars and restaurants.
This law and subsequent tobacco control measures – including higher cigarette taxes, free nicotine patches and smoke-free advertising campaigns – prevented thousands of premature deaths over a decade.
This also contributed to a three-year increase in average life expectancy in New York City, which outpaced national trends. By the end of Mike’s third term in 2013, there were some 350,000 fewer smokers in New York City than there were when he was first elected in 2002.
During this period, what was once a contested idea became a national movement against smoking indoors. Today, more than 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in a place protected by state or local smoke-free air laws.
To help our kids quit vaping, we need a leader in the White House who is ready to make these addictive substances less accessible. There is no question Bloomberg is the leader we need to get the job done.
Joel Feroleto sits on the Buffalo Common Council, representing the Delaware District.