Vaping dangers under scrutiny

By Luis Lopez , Advocate Staff

In an effort to address a growing health epidemic for America’s youth, the Richmond City Council has voted to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes and vape products like the popular Juul e-cigarette.

The ban will begin in 2020 and is aimed at all electronic cigarette products that have not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The number of underage people who smoke tobacco has skyrocketed due to vaping products marketing ads aimed at younger people.

City officials hope the ban will deter younger people from vaping and e-cigarette products that can potentially lead to death.

Contra Costa County Health Officer Chris Farnitano advocates for the ban of e-cigarettes in Richmond and provides data on the matter.

“For every adult who quits smoking, there are 80 youth who become addicted to tobacco because of products like Juul and e-cigarettes. The tobacco industry has done a good job of not only appealing to the youth but making people believe that they are safer than traditional cigarettes.”

Using vaping as a form to stop smoking completely is a common trend and are common themes in vaping advertisements.

Gateway to College student Juan Jimenez has been vaping for the past six months and said he is doing it in an effort to quit smoking completely.

“I am eventually going to quit and this is my way of not smoking anymore and still getting the feeling of it,” he said.

There are other ways to quit that are safer than vaping.

Farnitano said other methods are recommended for people that want to quit smoking. “There are nicotine gum and patches. I would recommend that over vaping if someone plans on quitting.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, vaping has killed six people in the past year and left some 360 hospitalized for lung disease and respiratory failure.

No specific brand or product is being named as the sole reason for these vaping related health concerns.

The problem seems to be the lack of research into the vaping products.

Until the tobacco industry invests enough money into the research of their products to get them approved by the FDA, they will not be sold in Richmond.

When spoken to about the chemicals found in vape products Jimenez believes he gets his product from a reliable source even though it is an unofficial source “I’ve known the guy for a long time, so I trust what he sells me is something that won’t be bad for me.”

Vaping and smoking are something everyone seems to be doing now that can be difficult to avoid. Second semester nursing major Abigail Plascencia is a non-smoker and said she has tried vaping but did not like it.

“I knew a few people who did it in high school, so I tried it but didn’t like it. It seemed just like smoking if not worse.”

She also said it’s evident smoking companies are targeting younger people with vapes and e-cigarettes.

“The flavors are like hookah flavors, fruity flavors and I think that makes it seem like something you would want to try because they sound like candy flavors,“ Plascencia said.

Jimenez said he does not believe the ban will deter many young people from using e-cigarettes or vapes.

“Young people who want to smoke will find a way. Whether it’s sold here or not, if people want to find vape products, they will find a way to get them,” he said.

Vaping has become a national crisis catching the attention of President Donald Trump who recently made some remarks about banning vaping nationally in a meeting about vaping in the Oval Office.

Trump said, “We’re going to have some very strong rules, regulations and more importantly, I think we’re going to have some very important information come out very shortly.”