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The war on e-cigarettes

On Sept. 11, the Trump administration announced it would ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 530 reported cases of lung injuries, all of which had a history of e-cigarette product use or vaping, from 38 different states and one U.S. territory. More than 70% of the reported cases were male patients and about 67% of men between the ages of 18 and 34. Seven deaths have been confirmed in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota and Oregon. 

Electronic cigarettes are also called vapes, e-hookahs, vape pens and electronic nicotine delivery systems. 

Though they look different, Juul vaporizers are also a type of e-cigarette. Juul is a small vaporizer and has the appearance of a USB drive, while e-cigarettes often look larger like a phone. 

According to the New York Times, cigarettes mainly target adults, whereas e-cigarettes appear to target younger generations. 

Lawmakers, public health officials, parents and educators have been pressuring the White House and the FDA due to the alarming popularity of vaping among teenagers. 

“E-cigarettes work by heating a liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs,” stated the CDC. “The liquid can contain nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinoid (CBD) oils, and other substances and additives.”

The New York Times has also been reporting public outrage stoked by different accusations that Juul Labs were intentionally trying to get youth to buy their products. This led to the company volunteering to stop shipping most of the flavored pods to thousands of retail locations around the country. Juul Labs hoped that by making flavored products less accessible, teenage use of Juul vaporizers would reduce. Instead, the New York Times reported that there has been an increase. 

According to the New York Times, five million minors in their high school years have admitted to using e-cigarettes and one-fourth of the high school students in the U.S. have reported to vaping within the last 30 days in this year’s annual survey—a 20% rise compared to last year.

The stopping and banning of vaping altogether only induced the teens to shift from fruit flavors to menthol and mint flavors, which are still available. 

The New York Times reports that the summer reports of vaping-related respiratory illnesses has reached more than 500 cases in nearly three dozen states, and as mentioned above, is linked to six deaths. 

Recently, Michigan became the first state to prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, followed by New York calling for a ban. Massachusetts and California are considering prohibiting the sale, and earlier this year, San Francisco approved an e-cigarette ban, which Juul Labs is lobbying to reverse through a ballot initiative this November.

Graphic by Sterling Zoe Rubottom