More Must Be Done To Stop Death By Vaping

By: Ryan Chapman, Editor-in-Chief

The Trump Administration should be applauded for announcing plans to remove flavored electronic cigarettes to combat the rise of youth use, and to reduce the number of cases of lung damage and death tied to teen vaping, that has risen steadily since 2011.

The announcement, Sept. 11, comes on the heels of a spate of deaths-by-vaping that seem to have happened mostly to teens.

Further, it comes after a release of  preliminary data from a new National Youth Tobacco Survey completed this year. Per the survey, 27 percent of high school students claim they have used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days. 

The decision is lauded by many including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.  

“The Trump Administration is making it clear that we intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities,” Azar said in a release by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

While banning flavored vapor cartridges could prove effective to prevent youth e-cigarette use, stronger measures are necessary.

More steps should be taken to stop teens and others from vaping such as warning labels and higher taxes on purchases.

In Oklahoma alone, there is no requirement for e-cigarette providers to mark on packaging the risks associated with using their products. Vapor products also do not have a tax attached to them.

That’s the opposite of tobacco products, but there are some shared dangers between them.

If the risks of e-cigarettes are to be taken as seriously as traditional tobacco products, should the state not have a similar set of laws and regulations in place with e-cigarettes? 

These warning and tax strategies intended to combat the use of traditional cigarettes appear to work, as the same National Youth Tobacco Survey showed that just 6 percent of high school students have used a cigarette over the past 30 days.

With youth cigarette use down 10 percent since 2011, logic supports applying the same strategies to e-cigarette company products.

The FDA has also begun cracking down on the advertising practices of e-cigarette companies, which is a much needed step and should continue. 

The FDA issued a warning letter Sept. 9 to JUUL Labs, Inc. –a well known maker of vaping products– citing the company for advertising its products as a safer alternative to cigarettes. 

Dr. Robert Shmerling said in a recent Harvard Health Publishing piece that claims of e-cigarettes being a safer alternative to smoking are not proven.

It has been difficult to pinpoint if vaping is the direct cause of lung disease, or if other outside factors are at play, Shmerling said.

“Since the FDA does not actively regulate e-cigarettes, it’s particularly difficult to get answers,” Shmerling said.

And therein lies the issue.

If e-cigarettes hold similar risks as traditional cigarettes and tobacco products, they should be treated the same. 

E-cigarettes should be regulated by the FDA, should have their marketing practices closely monitored, and should be taxed by states. 

If the same safety measures that have led to a decrease in tobacco use are not taken, the e-cigarette trend could become ingrained in America’s youth culture, potentially leading to widespread health problems for Americans down the road.

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