The vast majority of 600 parents polled on Long Island and in New York City correctly believe that vaping is addictive and that the increasingly popular alternative to smoking — which consists of puffing on e-cigarettes — is dangerous, and some 58 percent of them think vaping is as bad as alcohol and marijuana.
Other highlights of the survey released Tuesday in South Nassau Communities Hospital’s “Truth in Medicine” poll show parents have somewhat mixed opinions on whether they want so-called vape shops to open in their neighborhoods. As much as 56 percent of area parents oppose the shops and another 32 percent give them a green light — even though 85 percent are concerned that teenagers are curious about vaping.
“Our poll shows that parents in our area believe that our kids are just as curious about vaping as they are about marijuana and alcohol,” Dr. Aaron E. Glatt, chairman of the Oceanside-based hospital’s department of medicine and its epidemiologist, said in a news release. “No matter how it is delivered, whether by traditional cigarette or through vapor, nicotine in any form is highly addictive and can harm brain development in teenagers and young adults.”
The 20-question poll, sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union, was conducted by Washington and New Orleans-based LJR Custom Strategies between April 11 and April 17. It consisted of landline and cellphone conversations with 600 parents of at least one child younger than 18 in New York City and on Long Island, hospital officials said.
Twenty-three percent of the respondents lived in Nassau and 23 percent in Suffolk, while 8 percent lived in the Bronx, 7 percent in Manhattan, 17 percent in Brooklyn, 7 percent in Staten Island and 16 percent in Queens.
The poll is one in a series of quarterly surveys that, officials said, aims to gather data about attitudes on key public health topics and help spur education to improve public health. Other surveys have explored area residents’ attitudes and awareness of human papillomavirus, marijuana, screen time, cancer screenings, vaccine and antibiotics.
Some 80 percent of those surveyed were well-informed about how easy it is to get hooked on vaping, answering "yes" to the question: “Do you think vaping is addictive?” Another 12 percent answered “no” to the question and another 8 percent said they weren’t sure.
That is in sync with the federal Centers for Disease Control, which states plainly that, “The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens, and young adults,” and that “Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.”
Both the CDC and doctors at South Nassau said the e-cigarette trend, which the U.S. surgeon general has said spiked 900 percent in popularity among high- and middle-schoolers between 2011 and 2015, is likely to lead to more problems.
“We have made so much progress in educating our community about the dangers of smoking traditional cigarettes only to now have new generations of kids introduced to vaping and e-cigarettes without realized they are in danger of becoming addicted to nicotine,” said Dr. Adhi Sharma, chief medical officer and executive vice president of the hospital. “E-cigarette use does not prevent smoking. Teens and young adults who begin using e-cigarettes are likely to become addicted.”
Nearly one-quarter of the parents, 22 percent, said they themselves had vaped.
“While there are no significant differences on the addictiveness of vaping by gender or even age, vaping itself is far more popular among parents age 18 to 35 than older parents,” hospital officials said in a news release.
Doctors were concerned that 58 percent of parents surveyed said that vaping is as dangerous as alcohol and marijuana, 26 percent thought alcohol was most dangerous while another 7 percent selected marijuana and 6 percent said vaping was the worst.
“It’s apparent that many parents are concerned about vaping, alcohol and marijuana and all the other things young people can get into,” Glatt said. “They’re all addictive and potentially serious. There’s a significant percentage of them that think vaping is of concern” because it can lead to tobacco consumption.