ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State’s youth smoking rate has reached a record low. The NYS Department of Health (DOH) says as of 2020, less than 3% of high school students smoke cigarettes. In 2000, the youth smoking rate was 27.1%.

The DOH found tobacco use was down in all product categories. This includes a drop in e-cigarette use for the first time.

“These milestones demonstrate the overwhelming success of New York’s tobacco control program in reducing cigarette smoking among young people in New York State, and we will continue to take evidence-based action to safeguard New York youth from the nicotine addiction that tobacco products can cause. Smoking any substance can cause serious health problems,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration declared e-cigarette use among youth an epidemic. Studies show that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking cigarettes than those who do not vape nicotine.

In New York, e-cigarette use among high school age students increased 160% between 2014 and 2018. Between 2018 and 2020, the e-cigarette use rate among high schoolers dropped by 18%.

“In 2019, we increased the minimum age to buy tobacco and vaping products from age 18 to 21, and in 2020, we ended the sale of flavored e-liquids, stopped the online sale of e-cigarettes to individuals, stopped the sale of tobacco in pharmacies and eliminated the use of coupons and other price promotions that made vaping and tobacco products cheaper and more easily accessible to youth” said Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker.

In 2020, the DOH partnered with Truth Initiative to create a NYS-specific version of their text-based intervention, “This is Quitting” to help young people quit vaping. People in the program receive text messages that include encouragement, motivation, tips, skill, self-efficacy building exercises, and coping strategies.

New Yorkers aged 13 to 24 who want to stop vaping can enroll in the free and anonymous text messaging program by texting “DropTheVape” to 88709.  New Yorkers of all ages can contact the New York State Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NYQUITS (1-866-697-8487) or visit their website.