Editorial: Vaping regulations welcome

Government needs to get control of vaping and e-cigs, especially where it involves children

Imagine if decades ago, government regulators had taken the danger of tobacco products as seriously as they seem to be taking the health threat of e-cigarettes and other vaping products.

Many of the 160,000 Americans who die each year from cancer related to cigarette smoking, and the other 7,000 who die each year from second-hand smoke, might still be alive.

For the last couple of decades, regulators on the state and federal level have been trying to play catchup to rein in tobacco use.

Now it looks like they’re trying to avoid the mistakes of the past by getting out in front of the abuse of e-cigarettes.

Research is growing on the negative effects of vaping, including that some common chemicals used to flavor vaping liquids could harm people’s blood vessels, that heavy metals and other chemicals could contribute to cancer, and that vaping increases the likelihood teens will pick up other dangerous habits like tobacco and marijuana smoking.

Many of today’s adult smokers picked up the habit when they were teenagers.

So stricter regulations on the products, particularly related to the sale to children, can’t come soon enough.

In the same week, both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and New York state announced plans to rein in the use of vaping products by teenagers, specifically the candy-like flavors that vaping fluids come in, such as mango, waffles, cinnamon, vanilla and bubble gum.

Regulations under consideration include limiting the availability of flavors that entice young vape users, banning sale of flavored liquids, raising the age of purchase of vaping products to 21, limiting where vaping products can be sold, requiring better age verification for online purchases, and cracking down on advertising targeted at youths.

In May, the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters to companies about packaging their nicotine-based vaping products to look like packaging for cookies, candy, whipped cream and juice boxes.

About 20 million teens are exposed to at least one source of e-cigarette advertising each year. That advertising has been very effective.

Since 2014, vaping by high school kids has increased from 10.5 percent to 27.4 percent in New York. A 2017 study by Monitoring the Future found that about 13 percent of eighth graders, 24 percent of 10th graders and nearly 28 percent of 12th graders in U.S. schools reported using a vaping device in the past year.

While it’s important that government officials crack down on the availability and enticement of e-cigarette products to youths, they should not go so far as an all-out ban, which would negate the positive benefits the products are having on traditional tobacco smokers. 

Many longtime smokers are successfully using e-cigarettes to wean themselves off tobacco products.

Newer, strict regulations on tobacco have had a positive effect on reducing smoking and the dangers it poses.

Federal and state efforts to nip the e-cigarette epidemic in the bud are timely, necessary and welcome.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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