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Poll: Most New Yorkers see vaping as danger

Poll: Most New Yorkers see vaping as danger

Majority support emergency ban on flavored e-cigarettes
Poll: Most New Yorkers see vaping as danger
A 15-year-old smokes an e-cigarette in Peekskill, N.Y., April 16, 2016.

CAPITOL REGION -- More than three-quarters of New Yorkers think that vaping and e-cigarette use are a serious public health problem, according to a new Siena College Research Institute poll.

The poll found that 78 percent of people are either somewhat or very concerned that it is a serious health problem, and 61 percent of residents support Gov. Andrew Cuomo's emergency executive order banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in the state; 52 percent support a ban on all e-cigarettes.

The findings comes amid rising concern about the number of serious lung injuries reported by people who have used e-cigarette products.

The state ban on flavored e-cigarettes, which public health officials claim target young people, was to have gone into effect last Friday, but a mid-level state appeals court last Thursday put the ban on temporary hold while a vaping industry group challenges it in court. That decision came after the conclusion of the survey on which the Siena poll is based.

The federal Centers for Disease Control has reported that as of Oct. 1, 1,080 cases of lung injury associated with e-cigarette use have been reported, with 18 deaths. Industry groups say the illnesses are happening to people using off-market THC-containing materials, not those obtained from licensed vape shops, where many owners see themselves as helping tobacco users quit cigarettes.

"Vaping is not only in the news, but 73 percent say that we are facing a vaping epidemic among young people," said Don Levy, director of the Siena Research Institute. 

The poll also found that 74 percent of those surveyed support raising the age to purchase all nicotine products, including vaping and e-cigarette products, to 21 -- a law that takes effect in November. The poll concluded that 12 percent of New York residents vape on a regular basis.

The same poll found that more people than ever report being touched by opioid abuse, with the number of people with opioid abuse in their immediate family, who know someone who has abused and who know of someone who has died of addiction all up. In the highest number, almost half of all respondents -- 49 percent -- said a friend, co-worker or acquaintance has told them that there is opioid abuse in the family.

Overall, 84 percent believe there is an opioid epidemic, up from 80 percent a year ago.

"While opioid abuse is seen as the most serious public health issue, concerns over vaping have risen dramatically and now approach a level similar to opioids," Levy said.

New Yorkers support the legalization of recreational marijuana 56 percent to 36 percent; but a majority of residents also believe legalization will lead to more use and abuse among young people. Some 47 percent think legal marijuana would lead to workplace problems. Among those surveyed, 52 percent have used marijuana, and 21 percent currently do.

The poll was conducted Sept. 22-Oct. 1 by random telephone surveys with 589 adults and 217 responses drawn from a proprietary online panel, and has a margin of error of plus/minus 4.3 percent.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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