The vaping crisis

Austin Wendling, Co-Managing Editor

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Up until a few months ago, vaping was seen as the perfect way to curb smoking and bring many lifelong smokers out of the habit. However, that was a month ago, and many things can happen in a month. Vaping is now being seen as a new public health crisis all over the world. With more than 530 cases of vape related illnesses, and a death toll of eight, the nation is attempting to find any way to control the rise of this health crisis.
New York was the first state to pass a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. The Public Health and Health Planning Council voted unanimously for the ban on Sept. 17. The ban covers all flavored vape products with the exception of menthol. The ban came following an emergency executive action by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, due to the increase in health problems that have sprung up around the nation. The shops that currently sell flavored vape products will have two weeks to remove the items before enforcement begins. Shops that are caught with the products will be fined $2,000 per unit. This ban will last for 90 days, and then the council will have to come back together to revote for an extension to the ban. Cuomo has stated that he wants the state legislature to pass into law a permanent ban. Michigan will also be implementing a similarly structured ban. The country of India has passed an all-out ban on the sale of e-cigarettes and related products. President Trump has also expressed looking into regulation to fight the rise of vaping in the country.
The critics of the bans are pointing to the lack of swift action against traditional cigarettes for the health issues brought on by smoking. Others point to the fact that these bans will lead to many to look to the black-market for products that will not be as safe as those sold in licensed stores or to go back to smoking. The CDC has stated that many of the victims were using black market products that contained THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. They also point to the benefits that vaping has brought by bringing many long-time smokers off of cigarettes to what was seen as a healthier alternative with attractive flavors.
Those in support of these bans point to the increase in vaping among the American youth. According to a survey done by The New York Times, teenage vaping has doubled since 2017. The enticing flavors are seen as attracting teenagers to the industry.
Juul, one of the biggest brands in the business of e-cigarettes, has stated that it would follow any regulation passed at the state or federal level. They have also been attempting to save the menthol flavor of e-cigarettes from any type of ban due to the fact that the flavor is still legal in tobacco cigarettes. Retailers are beginning to take action as well, and Walmart released a statement on Friday, Sept. 20 that they will no longer sell e-cigarettes at either one of their stores, Walmart or Sam’s Club, in the U.S. This is the first major company to ban the sale of vaping products in light of the crisis and will perhaps lead the way for other companies to follow suit.

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