Capital District Tobacco-Free Communities visits Bethlehem Middle School

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ALBANY COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Between lunch periods on Friday, Bethlehem Middle School students stopped by a booth set up by Capital District Tobacco-Free Communities. They played trivia games and learned new facts about tobacco and e-cigarette use among people their age.

Principal Mike Klugman says that educational events like this are critical to protect his students from falling victim to marketing of flavored nicotine products.

“The issue for us, is, how do we stay ahead of the kids? How do we educate the kids of the dangers of it? Clearly, the industry right now that’s promoting vaping with kids is out ahead of the educational effort,” Klugman told News10.

The school doesn’t check backpacks at the door for e-cigs, and they’re often hard to recognize at first glance.

“Vapes now come in all kinds of shapes and sizes,” Klugman told News10, “some that look like external thumb drives.”

So instead, they’re trying to encourage students to just stay away from the devices in the first place.

“We have already talked about it in our health education classes,” Holly Kaiser, health educator at the middle school told News10, “and they don’t understand why it’s something that’s being sold and why the products are being sold as flavored.”

That’s what Capital District Tobacco-Free Communities tried to show students on Friday. They taught them about proposed Local Law E in Albany County, which would ban menthol cigarettes and all vaping liquids, except for tobacco flavors.

People who oppose the proposed law say the ban will push money and business out of the county, and make former smokers go back to cigarettes.

Capital District Tobacco-Free Communities, however, fears that the Governor’s statewide ban on flavored vape products isn’t enough, and that Local Law E will stop kids from gravitating toward flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes, when they can no longer get fruity flavored e-liquids.

“Our concern is, let’s not just limit it to one type of product, like the vape product,” Cara Zampi, Youth Engagement Coordinator for Capital District Tobacco-Free Communities told News10.

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