Guam Legislator Proposes Bill To Tackle Vaping ’emergency’

Guam Legislator Proposes Bill To Tackle Vaping ’emergency’
Guam Legislator Proposes Bill To Tackle Vaping ’emergency’

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A man vaping Photo: AFP/ ANP MAG – Koen van Weel

A proposed legislation to ban the sale of flavoured e-cigarette liquid in Guam aims to tackle what is seen as a youth vaping “emergency” but a vape store says there is no evidence it will work.

If Bill 50-37 is passed, any retailer who violates the ban will be subject to an initial fine of US$500, and fines of up to US$2000 on any subsequent violations.

Senator Tom Fisher, who has proposed bill, said the industry has intentionally created flavours to “lure children” into vaping.

“Can you think of a more cynical product? We’re actually going to make this stuff taste like some sort of fruity breakfast cereal,” Senator Fisher said.

“We say it’s for adults and that’s just a lie. It’s for your average 12-year-old boy.

“It’s become an emergency here on Guam…it’s become a problem in the schools and it’s just a public health hazard.”

A Guam doctor recently told a public hearing the rate of youth use of e-cigarettes in the territory is higher than on the US mainland.

Senator Fisher said he is “cautiously optimistic” that the Bill would pass.

“When the Bill came out, a lot of people were surprised they didn’t think it had legs.

“It’s been out there for a few months, and more and more people are coming to support it, we are seeing advertising about the harm of vape use.”

‘We have a responsibility

He said said adults have a responsibility to keep vape products away from children.

“I was a child, I used to steal cigarettes from my uncles, and kids are kids, we are adults, we have a responsibility to keep these dangerous things away from them.”

He said vapes would be exclusively tobacco flavoured if the Bill passes.

An owner of a vape store in Guam said flavours have become a “scapegoat” for the reason children start vaping.

‘A step back’

Vape Escape, owner Bistra Mendiola, which has three locations on the island, said there is “no such thing” as an adult or children’s flavour.

“Adults enjoy flavours just as much as children do. So trying to justify a bill through almost illogical thinking shouldn’t be the case, we should be enacting legislation that is based on facts and data.

“The complexity of this is not studied well and the assumption that the flavour is to blame is very easy.

“By implementing such a strict measure and criminalising a product that could potentially benefit the adults who are unable to or unwilling to switch [from smoking] is definitely a step back.”

She likened the proposed ban to alcohol prohibition in the US.

“A ban of the current legal product will create a much deeper problem, which will spur illegal smuggling and we don’t know what type of products will be brought in. They won’t be tested and won’t be tried.

“The problem will be detrimental for the future generation.

“We can learn from history and try to implement something that is more effective instead of prohibiting a product.”

If it passes, Guam won’t be the first Pacific island territory country to tackle vaping.

Last year in March, Palau outlawed vapes completely after President Surangel Whipps Jr signed a law for “a total ban on the import, advertising, sale, and use of e-cigarettes”.

From 29 May, businesses and individuals could be prosecuted if found with e-cigarette products.

Authorities hoped that the law would protect young people from negative health outcomes from vaping.

Individuals who are caught violating the law could face a $US1,000 fine and businesses or persons importing, distributing, and/or selling the product could face a $US20,000 fine.

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