Physicians, federal agencies, and legislators are taking to the media to discuss growing concerns over the use of electronic cigarettes. As reports of a mysterious vape illness continue to pour in, at least one state is ready to say goodbye flavored e-cigarette products altogether.
Michigan has announced a ban on all flavored e-cigarettes, including sweet, fruity, and menthol flavors. Under the prohibition, vape companies are no longer allowed to advertise their products using words like “safe” or “healthy.” The ban will be in effect statewide and applies to both in-store and online sales.
Michigan E-Cigarette Ban Amid Vape Illness Outbreak
Michigan is the first state to institute such a ban, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer said the impetus for the action is the rising concern about vape illness and high addiction rates among the young people in the state. Preliminary research indicates flavored e-cigarette products are frequently the gateway product to nicotine addiction and subsequent vape illness among teens and young people.
Governor Whitmer further explained she felt compelled to take action when the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services declared use of e-cigarettes among Michigan youth to be a public health emergency.
The ban should go into effect sometime in September, and will last for six months. Lawmakers will have the option to renew the ban after the initial six-month period. During the initial six months, the Michigan health department will work to develop regulations that will permanently ban flavored e-cigarettes in the state.
Michigan’s Ban Gets Approval from the Medical Community
The e-cigarette ban in Michigan has widespread support. So far, the ban has support from the following:
- American Lung Association
- American Heart Association
- Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Truth Initiative
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- Michigan Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics
- American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
- American Thoracic Society
Cities Across the Country Limit Vaping
Though Michigan is the first state to institute a sweeping ban on vaping products, several U.S. cities have enacted legislation to limit vaping within their borders. In June, San Francisco was the first major city to ban the sale of all e-cigarettes. Sacramento and Boulder, Colorado also recently instituted bans on all flavored vaping products.
FDA Proposes Federal Limitations
E-cigarettes have been on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) radar for months. In March, the agency initially proposed nationwide restrictions on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, with exceptions for menthol, mint, and tobacco flavors. Their concerns predated reports of widespread vape illness and vaping-related deaths.
The soon-to-step-down FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, explained, saying,
“Evidence shows that youth are especially attracted to flavored e-cigarette products and that minors are able to access these products from both brick-and-mortar retailers as well as online, despite federal restrictions on sales to anyone under 18.”
At this time, federal bans are not yet in place.
Back in Michigan, Governor Whitmer agrees. She cites statistics saying that 81 percent of teens and young adults who vape begin with a flavored product. She says the sale of flavored e-cigarette products and young kids’ use of nicotine products is a public health crisis. The Governor referred to e-cigarette liquid as a “chemical cocktail,” rightly pointing out that vape cartridges contain formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals and carcinogens.
Vape Illness, Lung Infections, and Addiction
The ban in Michigan follow numerous reports of severe lung infections, vape illness, and several deaths in connection with e-cigarette use. The most recent figures report at least 500 Americans in 25 states have developed vape illness and life-threatening lung infections. Six people in Michigan alone have been hospitalized due to vape illness. The vape illness outbreak is also responsible for six deaths.
Flavored E-Cigarettes Appeal to Children
Despite general prohibitions on the sale of all tobacco products, including vape cigarettes and cartridges, to anyone under the age of 18, teens and kids are vaping anyway. Statistics from the FDA show that 3.6 million middle school and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2018.
Electronic cigarettes come in flavors that seem almost specifically designed to appeal to children:
- Fruit Loop flavor
- Motts apple juice flavor
- Candy flavor
Kids’ brains are particularly vulnerable to damage from nicotine. Children with developing brains are suffering addiction to nicotine using a product with marketing that appeals to them directly. Products like JUUL are also marketed as being safe.
Vape Illness and Risks Still a Mystery
A spokesperson who is also a lung specialist reiterates that the only good thing that goes in the lungs is air. The medical community applauds the statewide ban mostly because the risks and long-term effects of e-cigarette use are still an unknown for doctors.
With traditional cigarettes, the medical community knows that it can take up to 20 years after starting smoking to increase the risk of cancer. If similar data can be applied to e-cigarettes, it will be at least another 20 years before researchers will understand the long-term effects that vaping can have.
In the short-term, however, the dangers are clear and present. The recent outbreak of vape illness has made them obvious. Medical researchers are aware of the potential carcinogens in e-cigarette products. Their concern is about the future. Doctors worry that 20 years from now, there will be an epidemic of lung cancer due to the rise in popularity of vaping.
It is also clear to the medical community that e-cigarettes are highly addictive, which is especially true for teens and young adults because their brains are more susceptible to addiction. It is very easy for e-cigarette users to overdose on nicotine as well. One cartridge of vape liquid contains as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. Many users report consuming more than one cartridge in a sitting.
In the end, there are many dangers of e-cigarette use, including the current outbreak of vape illness. Medical organizations across the country are taking an uncompromising stand against the use of electronic cigarettes.
Are You a Victim of Vape Illness?
Are you an e-cigarette user who is experiencing severe lung infection or hospitalization? Contact Drug and Device Watch to speak with our JUUL addiction attorney. You may have grounds to take legal action if you are battling illness caused by e-cigarettes.
Call Drug and Device Watch at 1-888-458-6825 or contact us online for more information.