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Supervisors Nathan Fletcher, Dianne Jacob Call for Crackdown on Vaping Products, E-Cigarettes

09/30/19

Alarmed by a spike in vaping-related illnesses and deaths, county Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Nathan Fletcher today called for a crackdown on products associated with vaping.

They proposed a ban on the sale and distribution of flavored tobacco products, along with a moratorium on the sale and distribution of the e-devices.

“Vaping-related illnesses are a grave concern and we must take local action to address this fast-growing public health crisis,” said Jacob, chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors. “Teenagers and young adults have been the hardest hit, and we must stand up to vaping manufacturers that are preying on them for profit.”

The recommendations will initially come to the board on Oct. 15. If the board follows up with a final approval, it would take effect in the county’s unincorporated area.

“E-cigarettes, and in particular the flavored products, are erasing years of progress in reducing teens’ use of tobacco and nicotine,” said Supervisor Fletcher. “Big tobacco is again preying on our kids, and we have an obligation to protect our children and public health. While I respect people’s right to personal choices, there are simply too many unknowns about the danger of these products and too much concerning data about illness and deaths linked to these products.”

State and local public health officials are advising people to refrain from vaping, no matter the substance or source, as investigations continue into the cause of the crisis.

“Until more is known about what is causing these cases of severe illness, it is important for people to stop using these products,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “Help is available for those who want to quit smoking in all forms, and I encourage people to take this important step for their health. If you do not vape, do not start.”

According to federal officials, since Aug. 23 there have been at least 12 confirmed deaths nationwide associated with e-cigarette use, along with more than 800 related lung injury illnesses, most of them since late August as well. As of September 26, there have been 22 confirmed and probable vaping-associated pulmonary injury (VAPI) cases reported among San Diego County residents.

Nearly two out of three of those affected are 18 to 24 years old. Sixteen percent are under 18.

According to the state Department of Public Health, teenagers and young adults make up about half of the people hospitalized in California as a result of e-cigarette use. In 2018, one in five high school seniors reported vaping in the past month – almost double the number reported in 2017.