Valley experts weigh in on flavored vaping ban

Jan 3, 2020, 4:45 AM
(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)...
(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

PHOENIX — Valley experts are weighing in on the Trump administration’s move to ban some flavored electronic cigarettes that are popular with teens.

The Trump administration announced Thursday it will temporarily prohibit the sale of closed cartridge e-cigarettes that are mint or fruit flavored, like those sold by the biggest e-cigarette company Juul. Those with tobacco or menthol flavors will still be allowed.

Companies that don’t stop manufacturing and selling these products risk enforcement action, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Daniel Brooks, medical director of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center in Phoenix, called the ban “a step in the right direction to promote public health.”

“These products aren’t safe for use, period, and they definitely shouldn’t be used by adolescents and young kids,” Brooks said.

He said users are ending up in the hospital with lung illnesses caused by vaping. There have been 21 of these cases reported in Arizona, according to the state health department.

The ban comes several days after the federal legal age to buy tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, was raised from 18 to 21.

Amanda Wheeler, owner of two vape shops and the executive director of the Arizona Smoke Free Business Alliance that represents smoke shops across the state, said the ban “is a good compromise.”

She said it seeks to reduce teen vaping while also ensuring that adult users still have access to vape products.

She noted the ban does not extend to tank-based vaping devices that allow people to fill them up with flavored liquids.

“That’s very good news for small business owners, because those flavored products make up about 96 percent of our sales,” Wheeler said. “A ban on these flavored products would have put us out of business.”

Meanwhile, Dustin Pardini, associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University, said the ban doesn’t go far enough. He said he’d like to see the ban include flavored liquids commonly sold in vape shops.

“If you go on the internet, you can easily find how you can refill a Juul cartridge with these flavored liquids that have not been banned,” he said.

“So the question is are youth just going to get the liquid and figure out a way to fill up a Juul device or another device with the flavored solutions that have not been banned?”

Pardini is the primary administrator of the Arizona Youth Survey, which every two years asks eighth, 10th and 12th graders across the state a variety of questions, including about the use of vaping products.

He said data collection for the next survey will begin next month. The survey will ask teens about the use of flavored products. The results should be released by the end of the summer.

“It’ll be interesting to see if we see an overall reduction in e-cigarette use,” he said.

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Valley experts weigh in on flavored vaping ban