More and more health professionals are establishing that vaping is harmful to users and Kentucky lawmakers are taking an aim at the new epidemic.
According to a Kaiser Health News report, Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine and the director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California-San Francisco, said the scientific evidence convinced him vaping is far from a harmless substitute.
"Nobody knows what's in any of these products," Glantz told Kaiser reporter Carmen Heredia Rodriguez. "What you're actually exposing yourself to is not in any way, shape or form standardized."
The truth is, there is not enough information about vaping and its effects on users.
Kentucky Health News reporter Melissa Patrick tackled the topic in a recent post to the new organization's blog site, and detailed how some Kentucky legislators want to combat the rise in use of e-cigarettes, especially among Kentucky's youth.
"Louisville Republican Rep. Jerry Miller's most recently pre-filed bill would require all retailers or manufacturers of vapor/aerosol products that come with 'enhanced cartridges' to register with the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and pay a $500 annual licensing fee per location annually," Patrick reported. "It would also prohibit retailers and manufacturers from selling such products online, by catalog or by phone; prohibit home delivery by outside vendors; require real-time age verification for purchase through an electronic third-party source no later than Jan. 1, 2021; and call for fines on any person under the age of 18 who tries to purchase electronic cigarettes or related products."
Health advocates say the bill doesn't go far enough because it does not ban flavored e-cigs.
"Anything short of bold and immediate action by the state to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including mint and menthol, fails to protect the health of Kentucky's kids," says a statement from the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Kentucky Voices for Health.
We believe any bill passed by Kentucky lawmakers should include language that bans flavors that would be attractive to young people. Vapes and e-cigs come in a variety of flavors that attract teens like bubblegum, sugar cookie and various fruit flavors.
Kentucky Health News reports "preliminary data from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that 64 percent of high school students who 'vape' say that menthol and mint is their second most popular flavor behind fruit 'and this number is growing all the time.'"
Additionally, the Kentucky Incentives for Prevention survey reveals 26.7 percent of the state's high-school seniors reported they had vaped in the past 30 days in 2018, up from 12.2 percent in the 2016 survey. Use by sophomores, or 10th graders, increased to 23.2 percent from 11.3 percent; use by eighth graders jumped to 14.2 percent from 7.3 percent; and sixth-grader use increased to 4.2 percent from 2.3 percent over 2016.
In addition to the surge in use, there has been an increase in vaping-related lung illnesses and injuries.
As of Oct. 15, nearly 1,500 vaping-related lung injury cases have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 33 deaths have been confirmed.
The CDC reports 15 percent of the cases were in patients younger than 18 years old, 21 percent of them were in patients between the ages of 18 and 21.
KHN reports, "In Kentucky, 28 cases are under investigation, with six of them probable, two of them confirmed and four of them ruled out."
"Investigators suspect many of the injuries are related to bootleg cartridges laced with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. This point is frequently played up by the vaping industry and its advocates to defend products created and sold by reputable businesses," Patrick writes.
Vaping and e-cigarette use is disproportionally and negatively affecting Kentucky's young people.
Considering the huge surge of e-cig use, Kentucky lawmakers must take steps to curb the use of e-cigs and vaping products in the coming session.
More research is needed into these products and their effects on the human body, which means there needs to be stricter regulations.