Los Angeles County now has 30 days to buy flavored tobacco after its Board of Supervisors approved a ban on all such wares, including menthol products. The decision, which applies to the unincorporated areas of the county that are home to one million residents, comes amidst a rash of deaths related to vaping products, and concern over rising e-cigarettes usage by teens.
As of September 27, severe lung injury seemingly caused by vaping cannabis and tobacco products has led to 12 deaths and 805 lung injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 77 percent of the individuals affected reported ingesting THC products, and 57 have reported use of nicotine products. Authorities have been unable to identify a single product or substance related to all the reported lung injuries.
But the LA County supervisors voted unanimously to axe flavored e-cigarettes from retailers’ shelves. That response seems to be an answer not only to the spate of vaping related deaths, but also to rising use among teenagers of e-cigarettes. Many say vaping products are unduly marketed towards teens with flavors like cotton candy, root beer float, and strawberry cheesecake.
Los Angeles Joining Growing Trend of Banning Flavored Vapes
A brief rundown of other places that have taken steps to limit access to certain products: India has completely prohibited the sale of e-cigs, and China is looking to impose harsher controls on them. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made the state the first to ban flavored e-cigs in mid-September, excluding menthol products and focusing on the health threat the products pose to teenagers. Massachusetts followed suit with a four-month moratorium. Michigan has prohibited flavored products temporarily starting today. Washington state is expected to join it later this month. Even the president and First Lady have swung into action, with Donald Trump meeting with top health officials about possibilities of regulating vaping products more strictly on a federal level.
The LA County decision was supposed to be subject to discussion, but due to timing concerns, the supervisors’ vote was conducted without comment, following the ban’s initial approval from last week.
“As the number of vaping-related deaths and hospitalizations climb, and as more states have taken steps to protect youth from the harmful effects of vaping products, we need to support our state leaders and ask them to step in to protect the public,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis last week.
The prohibition is not an uncontroversial move. Many advocates and business owners from the vaping industry say that the products are key as smoking cessation devices. That view is shared by doctors in the UK, where the Royal College of Physicians encourages medical professionals to promote e-cigarettes to people who are trying to kick their regular cigarette habits.
California has taken some of the country’s most aggressive approaches to dealing with health concerns over vaping. San Francisco banned the sale of e-cigs in June, prompting the locally headquartered Juul Labs Inc. to launch an incredibly expensive ballot measure campaign to overturn the prohibition. Governor Gavin Newsom announced in September that the state would be home to a $20 million media campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of vaping.