Dr. Richard Feldman | Particular to the Courier & Press
We now have made vital progress within the battle in opposition to tobacco use and nicotine dependancy for the reason that Nineteen Sixties with tremendously falling charges of smoking amongst each adults and youngsters.
Lowering the smoking charges and progressively making smoking socially unacceptable has been a complete effort involving prevention and cessation applications, media campaigns, smoke-free air legal guidelines, elevated cigarette taxation, and FDA oversight.
However all this progress is threatened with the introduction of e-cigarette use, generally known as “vaping,” especially among youth; it’s nothing less than an epidemic among middle and high school students.
More: Dr. Richard Feldman: E-cigarettes have become a public nightmare
We are facing a public health crisis with the potential of new generations of youth risking lifelong nicotine addiction with eventual disease and premature death. Vaping has been demonstrated to be far from harmless and commonly also leads to tobacco use.
We are in a battle to reclaim our children from vaping. My last column focused on taxation to curtail e-cigarette use. Let’s look at another crucial action to discourage vaping among children.
In recent years, renewed attention of the public and policymakers has considerably focused on sweet-flavored vaping products that entice youth to initiate and sustain their use. Examples include gummy bear, fruit, cotton candy, menthol, peanut butter cup, and cookies n’ cream.
Most flavorings were prohibited in cigarettes by federal regulation in 2009 but have been permitted in other tobacco products including smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, cigars, and most worrisome in e-cigarettes. The tobacco industry knows well that these flavorings lure children into use, and their marketing continues today by the vaping industry, largely controlled by tobacco companies. Eighty percent of youth who use tobacco products initiated with a flavored product. Seventy-two percent of youth tobacco users use a flavored tobacco product. Two-thirds of youth tobacco users report using tobacco products primarily because they come in flavors.
The Trump administration pushed for federal restrictions on flavored vaping products resulting in legislation signed into law. What started out as appearing as a substantial and meaningful prohibition eventually resulted in federal regulation with huge gaps, which will potentially result in relatively little effect. There are plenty of exemptions including disposable and refillable products and e-liquids found in vaping shops. The limited restrictions apply essentially only to self-contained “closed pod” cartridges in merchandise like Juul. Menthol flavoring can also be exempted. Over fifty p.c of kids provoke and preserve their use with menthol-flavored merchandise.
Solely 5 states at present have complete flavoring bans in impact to bolster the present weak federal laws. To the credit score of various extra public health-minded Indiana legislators, there was real curiosity in inserting a everlasting ban on flavored merchandise throughout previous legislative periods; it needs to be of no shock that nothing was enacted.
The federal Meals and Drug Administration lastly stepped as much as doubtlessly limit flavored vaping merchandise. Lately, the FDA started to train its authority with the denials of functions by sure corporations to market their flavored vaping merchandise. The functions should embody proof that their merchandise have general public well being advantages, which have been missing. How far reaching this prohibition might be remains to be unknown.
Don’t assume that the latest federal laws rising the authorized age of tobacco and vaping merchandise to age 21 will resolve the issue of youth vaping. Though an necessary motion, simply as with alcohol, youth will obtain entry to those prohibited merchandise.
Vaping merchandise are at present’s sweet cigarettes. Sweet cigarettes didn’t adversely have an effect on youngsters’s well being, however vaping is a unique story.
Dr. Richard Feldman is an Indianapolis household doctor and the previous Indiana state well being commissioner. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.