Go ‘beyond the haze’ on teen vaping


Health experts for years have warned about the unknown effects of vaping.

Now, evidence appears to be mounting linking the use of e-cigarettes to health problems.

As of Aug. 27, the CDC said 215 possible cases of severe pulmonary disease associated with the use of e-cigs have been reported by 25 states, including Indiana, where at least 24 people have developed the condition. On Friday, Indiana health officials confirmed a resident died from severe lung injury linked to vaping.

A major concern is the impact e-cigs are having on youth which, according to FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, has reached “epidemic” proportions.

Companies target teens with flavors such as bubble gum and chocolate chip cookie dough. Many believe those flavors attract teens to vaping which then serves as a gateway to smoking traditional cigarettes.

A 2018 Indiana Youth Tobacco Survey showed vaping has increased 387 percent among high school students and 358 percent among middle school students since 2012.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb acknowledged vaping among teens is a growing concern in the state, and along with State Health Commissioner Kris Box, unveiled a plan to battle e-cig use. The state is spending an estimated $2.1 million on “What’s Beyond the Haze,” an education, awareness and prevention campaign, as well as a texting program that allows students to get addiction help.

The plan is a step forward, but lawmakers also need to do their part. In the most recent session, the General Assembly fell short when given the opportunity to taken action. A measure that would have taxed e-cigarettes died without a vote on the last day of the legislative session. Democratic leaders have vowed to bring the tax before the legislature in the next session.

As the CDC’s recent numbers reveal, the impact of e-cigs on people’s health, especially young people, is alarming. Kevin Burns, the CEO of Juul Labs, the best-selling e-cigarette in the U.S., and under fire for the company’s marketing practices, recently told teens not to vape, and acknowledged that “As a parent of a 16-year-old, 19-year-old, I don’t want my kids using the product.”

The governor’s plan is a start. Now it’s time for the legislature to get involved and take steps to reduce the epidemic of youth vaping in the state.

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