MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Nassau County officials spoke out against vaping Friday, joining a growing trend in scientific studies showing e-cigarettes and similar devices are not the healthier alternatives to smoking, as some users believe.
“Nicotine is a drug. THC is a drug. Using a vaping method to ingest either can have both negative health effects and, in the case of THC, be illegal,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement.
Nearly half of middle school students admit they have tried vaping. That’s why county health officials are sounding the alarm there’s more in e-cigarettes than water vapor.
“Volatile organic compounds such as benzene, which comes out of car exhausts. You certainly wouldn’t want to inhale that,” Nassau County Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Einstein said.
A report released earlier this year claimed teens not only become addicted to vaping but are more likely to pick up smoking because of it.
The problem is complicated by manufacturers creating vaporizers that look like lipstick or pens, making it harder for school officials to crack down on vaping in schools.
County health officials also said they’re seeing more and more THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. A vape pen filled with THC oil can be hard to detect.
“You can’t smell it. The whole idea of ‘smoking the boys room,’ you can’t even tell anymore, because you can’t smell it. It just dissipates,” said Curran.
THC is not legal to distribute or possess in New York, and police are stepping up inspections of vape shops and making arrests — 990 in 2017, nearly triple the number from the previous year.
“This is a gateway drug that will bring your child to the use of opiates or heroin,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.
Curran called for all county agencies to work together to address the situation as part of her responsibilities of “ensuring the health and safety of every person in Nassau County.”
To help parents determine what’s inside their teens’ vape pens, Nassau County police are offering free testing if you bring them to any precinct.
In January, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released their findings on Jan. 23, citing evidence that e-cigarettes were safer than traditional smoking products, but refused to declare vaping devices completely safe.
The committee added that 10 studies all showed enough evidence to suggest that nicotine-filled e-cigarettes carry the same addictive potential as standard tobacco products.