Lawmakers are attempting to snuff out electronic cigarette use in a California city by changing the definition of smoking tobacco to include tobacco free vaping products.
Officials in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., say vaping devices are growing in popularity with teens in the city, which they claim will lead to lifelong addiction to nicotine among youth. City officials banned smoking on publicly owned property in 2008 and expanded that definition to include bus stops, train stations and lines for ATM machines and theaters in 2010, reports the Daily Bulletin.
Lawmakers now want to expand public rules governing tobacco smoking to include e-cigarettes, which heat liquid nicotine to deliver a similar buzz to cigarettes with a fraction of the harm. Anti-vaping officials continue to insist studies confirming the devices greatly reduce harm are false or misleading.
“We are deeply concerned that these products are starting kids on a lifetime addiction to nicotine,” Marwa Mohamed, a health educator for the American Lung Association, told the Daily Bulletin.
Staff working for the city and local advocacy group Healthy RC conducted a study between November and May tracking youth vaping in Rancho Cucamonga. It found one in four high school students have used an e-cigarette, but it does not specify how many students are regular users of a vaping device.
City leaders think this exposure to vaping may ultimately lead to more young Americans smoking combustible cigarettes.
Statements from researchers linking e-cigarettes to smoking will often misrepresent what the actual data shows. In one recent example from the Virginia Commonwealth University, researchers studying 3,757 freshmen based their analysis off the metric of vaping “at least one puff in the past six months.”
Nationally, the trends suggest teens and young adults are largely giving up e-cigarette use. A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released June 15 shows 11.3 percent of high school students used a vaping device in 2016, down from 16 percent in 2015.
“Numbers have finally turned in the right direction,” Robin Koval, chief executive officer of the non-profit Truth Initiative, told Market Watch in June. “This shows a lot of kids were trying them and experimenting, but now that the novelty has worn off, they don’t find them satisfying and we are seeing the trend move in the other direction.”
Overall, the number of teens using any tobacco product also declined from 4.7 million to 3.9 million in 2016.
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