A government-funded survey released earlier this month reported a continued rise in teen use of e-cigarettes.
The study found that more than one in nine high school seniors report vaping nicotine nearly every day. Researchers said the share of teens who said they vaped nicotine over the past 30 days more than doubled for each age group surveyed in the study.
Now, several local officials have acted.
Beginning Oct. 1, Maryland businesses can no longer sell e-cigarettes, pod devices, e-liquids, and accessories to anyone younger than 21.
Maryland Del. Dereck Davis said the state would next ban flavored e-cigarettes.
In the District, Council member Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7), who chairs the council’s health committee, has introduced the Prohibition of Electronic Smoking Sales Without A Prescription Act of 2019, which seeks to address the extraordinary health risks brought on from vaping and prevent District youth from becoming addicted to nicotine.
Numerous reports have cropped up across the country about evolving evidence that vaping can lead to irreversible lung damage and lung disease.
There are 380 cases of severe lung illnesses reported from 36 states and one U.S. territory, and the number is growing daily. At least seven deaths in six different states have been attributed to vaping.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released interim recommendations for health care providers, health departments, and the public urging people to refrain from using e-cigarettes or vaping products until more is known about the health impacts.
With this legislation, Gray, a staunch anti-tobacco advocate, joins New York, Michigan, and other states in introducing legislation to combat adverse vapor-related outcomes.
“While we continue to learn more about the long-term harmful effects vaping products and e-cigarettes have on a person’s lungs, what we know now with certainty, is that these products contain high levels of nicotine,” Gray said in a statement.
“Nicotine is a dangerous and highly addictive chemical,” he said. “What is most concerning to me is that a new generation of young people can get hooked on nicotine through vaping and electronic smoking.”
To bolster his bill, Gray cited a study by Johns Hopkins Medicine that found the most concerning thing about the rise of vaping and e-cigarettes are that people who would have never smoked otherwise, especially youth, are taking up the habit.
It concluded that often leads to using traditional tobacco products down the road.
Despite being illegal to sell e-cigarettes to anyone younger than 21 in the District, resourceful youth still easily obtain the products, Gray said in a news release.
“It has become clear in recent months that we are only beginning to learn the extent of the long-term negative impact vaping and e-cigarettes have on a person’s lungs,” Gray said.
“Until more is known about the long-term adverse health impact of vaping, any use of electronic smoking devices and vaping products should be carefully monitored by a physician through a prescription,” he said. “I intend to hold a hearing on this legislation and the other vaping products legislation I co-introduced, in the very near future so we can stay ahead of this emerging health crisis.”