Although New Jersey has strong smoke-free policies and laws, smoking is still very prevalent among our young people.
E-cigarettes and vaping are the tobacco products of choice for younger generations.
Eric Kakauridze, program supervisor for Tobacco Free for a Healthy New Jersey — the state’s largest collaborative effort to reduce the health consequences of smoking, vaping and second-hand smoke — said teens and teenagers are very impressionable people.
Although it is illegal to sell flavored e-cigs in New Jersey, they are still heavily marketed and advertised, which attracts children. With all the flavors available, kids are prone to experimentation.
In 2019, 1 in 4 high school students in New Jersey used an electronic vaping product at least once in the past 30 days, he said, citing a 2018 youth tobacco survey It also found that 4 in 10 New Jersey high school students used at least one tobacco product within 30 days.
“According to the 2019 National Tobacco Survey, approximately 6.2 million American middle or high school students were current or past 30-day users of some type of tobacco product. But e-cigarettes are the most common tobacco product used by New Jersey youth, Kakauridze said.
The goal of Tobacco Free for a Healthy New Jersey is to promote healthier lifestyles and enable people to live healthy lives without the consequences of tobacco use or second-hand smoke associated with tobacco use. tobacco.
The organization is leading the charge to reduce tobacco use by educating younger groups to create a more informed population and helping smokers make the transition to a smoke-free lifestyle.
“Our last big goal is to help those who smoke or vape quit. So we provide several withdrawal tools that people can use,” he added.
They do this through virtual or in-person counseling and 11 quit centers across the state, which offer free nicotine replacement therapy, an FDA-approved withdrawal product, he said. declared.
Abandonment centers are located in Monmouth, Ocean, Passaic, Hudson, Essex, Mercer, Union, Middlesex, Atlantic, Cumberland and Cape May counties.
They provide smokers with access to advice and resources to quit or reduce the use of all tobacco products.
Kakauridze said if a smoker doesn’t have a quit center in the county where they live, don’t worry. They can visit a quit center in a nearby county to get help quitting smoking.
A full list of the 11 state dropout centers can be found here.
TFHNJ also recently developed a Point of Sale Audit Tool to collect data on the landscape of the retail environment and measure how well state laws and local policies are being followed.
The Point of Sale initiative sends TFHNJ members to retailers to ensure they are following state laws in place and are well informed about why this process is occurring.
“If retailers aren’t selling to young children, young children won’t be able to acquire these products, so we’re really working to educate them about these state policies and improve compliance with state policies,” Kakauridze said. .
TFNJ also seeks to recruit youth members who seek to advocate for tobacco prevention throughout the state of New Jersey. Interested high school students can learn about the dangers of e-cigarettes and tobacco products, and then, in turn, educate their peers about the issues.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at [email protected]remedia.com
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