Boston residents and legislators called Thursday for a ban on all flavored tobacco and vapes, pushing also to raise taxes on flavored e-cigarettes.
Over 100 Boston residents gathered in its Beacon Hill neighborhood to demand changes to the state’s smoking laws after increasing numbers of youths have started using flavored nicotine vapes. Included in the group were cancer patients and survivors as well as health advocates, The Boston Globe reported.
“They are marketed and sold to our youth and our youth are getting sick and they have no idea what the consequences are,” said Democratic Massachusetts State Rep. Danielle W. Gregoire, lead sponsor of a proposal to ban flavored e-cigarettes, according to the Globe.
Nicotine is an addictive substance that raises both blood pressure and adrenaline, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Usage of e-cigarettes has increased dramatically among youths. High school students using e-cigarettes increased by 900 percent in 2015, according to the U.S. surgeon general, Johns Hopkins Medicine reported.
The percentage of U.S. adults that smoke cigarettes, however, hit its lowest mark ever in 2017, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention reported in November 2018. Roughly 14 percent of U.S. adults smoke cigarettes daily.
Thursday’s call to ban flavored vapes comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a measure that would mandate establishments serving all ages to have separate age-restricted rooms designated for e-cigarettes. (RELATED: Vape Shop Owner Fights Indoor Ban Arguing E-Cigarettes Are Not Tobacco Products)
Tobacco Free Mass, an anti-smoking coalition, is also pushing for legislation that would tax e-cigarettes as well as raise taxes on cigars and cigarettes. The proposal seeks to place a 75 percent excise tax on e-cigarettes, according to the Globe.
“We need revenue, but more importantly we need to continue saving lives,” Democratic Massachusetts State Rep. Marjorie Decker said. “When you increase taxes on tobacco, you lower rates on new smokers coming in,” Decker said, the Globe reported. “It works.”
States have also taken it upon themselves to regulate the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products. Massachusetts passed a law in December 2018 that raised the legal tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21.
Hawaii is also considering banning flavored tobacco and e-cigarette liquids in an effort to fight the rapid increase in teenagers vaping, according to The Star Tribune. The state already requires tobacco and e-cigarette purchasers to be at least 21 to buy the products.
E-cigarette manufacturers have pushed back against legislation seeking to ban or curb users’ abilities to continue vaping, arguing that e-cigarettes are often a helpful tool to help smokers transition away from tobacco products. Vape critics allege that teenagers who wouldn’t otherwise try or use tobacco products are vaping because of the appealing flavors.
Teenage vaping has risen 78 percent between 2017 and 2018, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, the Tribune reported.
Over 3.6 million youths use nicotine vapes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Globe reported.
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