It’s been one month since the first vaping-related death was reported, and now, state and federal legislative bodies are considering banning flavored e-cigs and vaping juices, especially with the multitude minors who admit to using these products.
The Centers for Disease Control recently reported 5.1% of Utah’s population smokes e-cigarettes, the 13th highest prevalence in the country. Half of all users are under 35 years old, and in a national drug use survey for high schoolers, roughly a quarter of all high school students reported using e-cigs within the last 30 days.
According to Savannah Allred, who manages The Mystic Sphynx vape shop in Logan, many of the mom and pop shops and small vaping businesses in Utah would go out of business if flavored liquids were banned.
“I probably only see 10 or 15% of my regulars are vaping tobacco flavored e-liquids, maybe even less than that," she said. "Typically, it’s the older generation, too. . . The majority of people who vape, the majority of adults that we see are, it’s flavored items that they’re looking for.”
Chandler Paskins, district manager for The Vape Shop’s western locations, said the stores in Utah are highly regulated and follow FDA standards. They do not sell products with additives now believed to cause the lung illnesses. In fact, a self-reported study for the Utah Department of Health reported THC products were behind 90% of Utah’s vaping-related illnesses.
“If you do take away the flavorings, you’re going to create a black-market base of people who can still find flavorings and are making it out of home, which I feel like will lead to more tainted kind of things like what’s happening right now with the THC cartridges,” he said.
Paskins said teenagers have always smoked, and that when regulated, e-liquids are healthier due to lack of toxins and chemical additives in regular tobacco. Even if a ban were enacted, he said “I feel like they’re going to do whatever they can to get their hands on their nicotine.”
While the side effects of vaping are still being studied, the CDC reported traditional smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths and is responsible for 480,000 deaths a year – or about 1,300 a day.