Trump to pursue higher sales age for e-cigarettes

FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2019 file photo, a man blows a puff of smoke as he vapes with an electronic cigarette. Months into an outbreak of vaping-related illnesses, health officials in October 2019 are still looking at a wide range of products and chemicals that might be causing the severe _ and sometimes fatal _ cases.

The Kern County Board of Supervisors pulled back from a potential vaping ban at a meeting Tuesday, calling efforts to limit the use of e-cigarettes premature.

Instead, the county will move forward with strengthening its existing ordinance, potentially increasing penalties for shops that sell tobacco and vaping products to minors.

Supervisors convened at Tuesday’s meeting in part to address a rash of vaping-related injuries that have occurred over the past several months. A large group of shop owners and e-cigarette users attended the meeting in an attempt to stop supervisors from doing anything they would term as an overreaction to the hospitalizations.

As of Oct. 29, some 1,888 cases of lung injuries linked to vaping have been logged by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So far, 37 people have died as a result of these injuries, with three of those deaths occurring in California.

The Kern County Public Health Services Department says three injuries have occurred in the county and more cases are being investigated.

In the midst of injuries, the Health Department reported that smoking claims the lives of 480,000 Americans each year and is the leading preventable cause of death.

The CDC says tobacco use among youth is rising, with many young people being introduced to the products through e-cigarettes.

Students and health groups pushed supervisors to enact stricter regulations on smoking and vaping.

“We have seen many devastating sights when it comes to tobacco usage,” said Gurvir Sidhu, an executive member of Students Working Against Tobacco. “Like seizures on school campuses. We have witnessed our peers ditching class to vape in the bathrooms, causing students to detest using them.”

He asked supervisors to ban flavored vaping products and limit tobacco retailers around youth-populated areas.

However, several former smokers said they needed flavored vaping cartridges to stay off cigarettes.

“I smoked for so long, 20 years,” said David Sparling, who described himself as a three-pack-a-day smoker. “I tried patches, doctor recommendations, even hypnotization. Nothing worked. The vapor did. I’ve been smoke-free for quite some time now. I’d like to stay that way.”

Other ex-smokers and shop owners seemed to convince supervisors not to take strong action against either vaping or smoking.

“I don’t think government is the answer to the problem,” Supervisor Mick Gleason said during the meeting. “I don’t think you come to Kern County to get someone to stop smoking in the high school bathroom. That’s not our job.”

The rest of the board seemed to agree. Supervisor Mike Maggard pointed to the apparent connection between black market vaping products and the injuries. Many of those injuries have reportedly been linked to the vaping of THC.

“If we deny any legitimate, any authorized, sales of these products, only illegitimate, black market products will be admitted and that presents a much bigger danger than those that are up there,” he said.

The Health Department will return to the board with proposed changes to existing ordinances. Those changes will likely strengthen punishments for shops that sell to underage individuals.

County sting operations using underage decoys have registered a decrease in the number of shops selling to minors.

Over the last three years, the county has seen an 8 percent decrease in shops busted for illegal minor sales. The sting operations registered just 4 percent of shops selling to the decoy in the last fiscal year.

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

(6) comments

REMUDA

Unshaven with red finger-nail polish . . . ? Perhaps more than nicotine is in the 'vaping' inhalant. Seems like a lot of attention for a simple issue. But then, we had "prohibition" once upon a time too.

When/Where does 'personal responsibility' (home-taught) enter . . . and 'government control' leave (ignored anyway) . . . from these 'self-induced' illnesses . . . !?

2carpoor

Not necessarily premature. Now people are talking. There will always be some who if told they can no longer do something will immediately gather all who will listen and begin doing what ever has been deemed uncool. That being said, when many start talking, things can be discussed, deliberated and then voted upon. The store keepers who have but one product and have no say in what that product contains may have to broaden their product base. When you think about foreign substances being intentionally brought into your lungs, bells should be ringing and red flags should be waved. As a council you've got the bells ringing and the flags waving. Thank you.

Moardeeb

Exactly what I said 2 weeks ago! Glad calmer voices came forth. I am completely off of cigarettes now. Vaping was a healthier alternative. Now I'm off cigarettes and vaping for 11 months. Good deal!

Mrknowitall

Mick Gleason”Not our job”. Well done. Could have chose to spare agony n lives. But not your job.

2,000 cases, Partner. Uh... the danger is real. The reason the Government moved on this issue is simple. These #’s are just the tip of the iceberg. When have we seen the Feds move fast on ANYthing? They moved on this cuzz they are privy to the behind the scenes skinny. Kids on ventilators? Deaths? Better safe than sorry. Kids don’t use great judgement. Part of being a kid. They count on adults and authorities to keep them safe. Umm. Yes. It IS your job. Just imagine—God forbid— that vaping devastated someone we know. We will look back and be sad... but we cannot turn back the clock. Gleason is not running for re-election so he’s just punching the clock for $$$. If he won’t lead he should at the very least get outta the way. Where is KC sense of decency? Almost as if they have zero concern for KC youth. It shows. Kids add just kids. Let em grow up n grow up with the ability to breath normally.

Mrknowitall

I expressed in a completely fine manner that this is just the tip of the iceberg on vaping hospitalizations and deaths. Strange that the Feds moved so swiftly as they are known to slow-roll. So this must be BIG. But the editors or censors removed the post. Noted that Gleason is a lame duck as nit seeking re-election. So...

Nevermind

Sometimes a post seems to be deleted, but it's off in cyber limbo somewhere only to reappear later.

I agree, I have no problem with adults putting whatever they want into themselves, kids are a different story.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.