by Robert Kimmel
Widespread concerns about health hazards associated with vaping have led Westchester County to partner with several community groups to start a Vaping Prevention and Awareness Campaign. Westchester’s “commitment to public health” was cited by Executive George Latimer in announcing the campaign, which brings the County’s Department of Health into a public pursuit against vaping.
“For more than 40 years, the American Cancer Society has hosted the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday in November,” Latimer related. He said “Today, we are facing a new challenge with vaping becoming more prevalent with our youth. This Public Awareness Campaign is designed to help educate parents on the dangers and health risks associated with vaping, so they can hopefully stop the problem before it starts.”
More than 1,600 reported cases of lung injury nationwide have been linked to the use of e-cigarettes or vaping products, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The majority of these cases have come from products purchased on the streets. The U.S. Government had indicated it would begin a crackdown on vaping; however, that project has not yet gotten started following President Trump’s recent hesitation initiating it.
“Quitting vaping can be just as difficult as quitting smoking because nicotine in vapes and tobacco is highly addictive,“ County Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD noted. The County’s campaign includes several public service announcements. Dr. Ambler urged people to watch the videos to “get the facts, and if you smoke or vape, make a plan to quit.”
There is help for users. The County cited four organizations offering assistance and contact phone numbers for such help. They are:
- NY Smoke Free – 1-866-697-8487
- Centers for Disease Control – 1-800-QUIT-NOW
- American Cancer Society support groups – 1-800-277-2345,
- American Lung Association – 1-800-LUNGUSA
The public service announcements are described by the County as follows:
The first Westchester County PSA focuses on “The Health Risks of Vaping in Children.” It features Amy Brown, MD, MBe, and Sheetal Shah, MD. Dr. Brown is an attending Pediatric Pulmonologist at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at New York Medical College. Dr. Shah is a neonatologist and researcher and a Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Neonatology at New York Medical College. Watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gWVTuC3Rnw
The second PSA focuses on “How to Recognize Vape Devices.” It features Carolyn D’Agostino, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuser Counselor and Credentialed Prevention Professional who is a Student Assistance Counselor for Student Assistance Services, a not-for-profit agency whose focus is substance abuse prevention. It can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djL51jMdmFc
The final PSA focuses on “How to Talk to Kids about Vaping.” It features advice from Sherlita Amler, MD, Commissioner of Health, and Daniel A. Cohen, MD, a pediatrician at WestMed in Purchase. It is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRBA5U7FJsQ