SBN Newsmakers: Eric Kakauridze, Tobacco Programs Supervisor, Tobacco-Free NJ

Despite New Jersey having strong tobacco control policies and laws, tobacco use continues to run rampant among our youth. Electronic smoking devices are undoubtedly the younger generations’ go-to tobacco product, just as cigarettes were for previous generations. 


E-cigarettes remained the most used tobacco product among middle-and-high-schoolers in 2021, and in New Jersey, over 1 in 4 high schoolers used an electronic vapor product in the past 30 days. It’s no secret that adolescents who vape or smoke, even occasionally, have a higher chance of becoming daily smokers by adulthood. So, while marketed as a safer alternative to cigarettes – and in a colorful, flavorful way that’s appealing to youth – there is nothing safe about these products. 


In prior decades, youth were persistently taught about the dangers of cigarettes and tobacco products of the time by programs like D.A.R.E. These days, tobacco products come in many forms and functions, yet little has been done to educate on the dangers and consequences.  


To ensure we don’t live in a future where tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in New Jersey and the nation, Tobacco Free for a Healthy New Jersey (TFHNJ) – the state’s largest collaborative effort to reduce the health consequences of tobacco use, vaping, and secondhand smoke – is leading the charge to reduce adolescent tobacco use by addressing the problem and the sources that fuel it in Northern, Central, and Southern New Jersey through youth tobacco action groups, adult training and providing curriculum to schools and universities, to name a few.

This week’s guest on SBN Newsmakers is Eric Kakauridze, tobacco programs supervisor for Tobacco-Free NJ. You can watch the conversation in the player below.