Opinion: More action is needed to keep vapes away from young Utahns

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Unknown to many, here in Utah there is an epidemic of illegal, flavored, disposable e-cigarettes among young people. The ability to stick to these products Fun, the danger is more dangerous than ever. As these illegal products continue to enter our borders, the federal government is lax in its desire to address the issue. The good news is that our local health departments are now in a unique position to take action.

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data from their annual report National Youth Tobacco Survey. The data shows that, while cigarette smoking has declined to record lows, the use of disposable e-cigarettes has increased. 2,617% As of 2019. What’s even more troubling is that the vape brands most youths report using for the first time are already illegal for sale under federal law. The Elf Bar, cited by over 57% of kids, has been banned nationwide but is still finding its way into backpacks and middle school bathrooms.

Recently, Braden Ainsworth, tobacco prevention and control program manager for the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, told the state Legislature’s Interim Committee on Health and Human Services that local health departments will begin cracking down on these illegal, disposable vapes like the Esco Bar. and Elf Bar, are very popular with children and teenagers. The expected move is in response to Chinese manufacturers routinely flouting the law to put their products in the hands of children. As immoral as it is, that’s what we see here in Utah.

The problem arose in 2020 when the FDA imposed a ban on carton-based flavors. Reusable E-cigarettes. Shockingly, that rule is silent. Disposable vapes. Chinese manufacturers continue to exploit this dangerous loophole to flood the US market with illegal and disposable e-cigarettes. Currently, flavors like blue cotton candy and watermelon bubble gum that appeal to youth are being marketed and sold without submitting the required product applications to the FDA.

This gap is too big for any teenager to reach – and they have. Since the 2020 FDA cartridge ban went into effect, the number of specialty e-cigarettes sold in the US has increased. 9,000And disposable sales are up among young people nationwide. today, 89.4% Secondary e-cigarette users use sweet and candy-flavored vapes.

About 12% of Utah’s eighth graders and a quarter of our high school seniors have tried vaping in the state. Health department He says.

Almost all illegal, disposable e-cigarettes used by youth come from China. Because that country has banned the sale of these dangerous products within its own borders, foreign manufacturers are chasing our children to keep their businesses going.

After years of keeping the loophole open, the FDA is trying to crack down on illegal manufacturers, distributors and sellers with fines and threatening letters, recognizing the public health risk it poses. These measures are not enough.

Associated Press As we recently reported, four months after the federal government moved to ban the importation of Elf Bar, the best-selling Chinese disposable vapes are still widely available.

Utah parents, teachers and school administrators will tell you more needs to be done to keep kids safe. It was encouraging to hear Ainsworth testify about the steps the state health department plans to take, in partnership with local agencies, to ensure that retailers, including disposable, flavored e-cigarettes, are illegal and will be prosecuted if they continue to sell them. They.

As a small business owner and two-term Draper City Council member, I want to help responsible retailers avoid being harmed by bad actors who break the law to line their pockets. Most small business owners want to do the right thing for their customers and their community. It is the responsibility of the FDA, state and local agencies to ensure that they have the correct information they need and that the law is being consistently and strictly enforced!

Our state legislators are right to step up the fight against illegal, disposable, flavored vapes. China has shown complete disregard for the health and safety of young Americans by targeting these illegal products for years. Our health and law enforcement agencies at all levels must join forces and back up their words with action to get these products off the shelves!

Bill Rapley is president of WER Enterprises and a two-term Draper City Council member.

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