OLYMPIA – Washington residents would be unable to purchase flavored vaping products, even if they don’t contain nicotine, under a bill being considered by the Senate that’s aimed at keeping them away from minors.
Youth vaping has increased nationally, Sen. Patty Kuderer, the sponsor, said. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration analysis showed it increased from 2 million in 2017 to over 5 million in 2019, added Kuderer, D-Bellevue.
Vaping can lead to nicotine addiction, mood disorders and drive young people to use cigarettes, increasing their risk of developing lung cancer, according to Kuderer.
“It’s flavored vaping products that are the hook used to reel these young people in,” she said.
Kyle Nelson, a high school student from Vancouver, said it’s not uncommon to see students vape in class. Students who have never smoked a cigarette are hooked on flavored vaping.
“These companies don’t care about the health and safety of me and my friends,” Nelson said. “They care about making money off us.”
Manufacturers would be required to have a Liquor and Cannabis Board license and submit a list of ingredients to the Department of Health, according to the bill. The board could restrict the sale of products if the department says they are harmful.
The bill would also limit the concentration of nicotine to 2% of the total product. Restrictions would be effective as soon as the bill is signed.
Clint Pettee, owner of an e-liquid manufacturing facility in Vancouver, Washington, said the restrictions would lead to a sharp spike in black market products.
“The only immediate threats are within the black market products,” Pettee said. “Flavoring for e-liquid can be found at the grocery store.”
This could lead to people creating their own product and to unintentional poisonings, he said.
Banning flavored vape products won’t deprive someone of having an alternative to cigarettes, said Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle. The Board of Health showed that the odds of quitting flavored products were low, he said.
But Pettee said he used flavored vaping products to stop smoking cigarettes 17 years ago.
The National Youth Tobacco Survey lists flavors as a top reason for vaping, said Crystal Shen, a doctor representing the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“One Juul pod is equivalent to one pack of cigarettes,” she said. “And half a pod is enough to addict a teen.”
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