The 120-day ban on flavored Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and nicotine products, set to end in February 2020, may be renewed. Effective on Oct. 9, 2019, the Washington State Board of Health launched a statewide ban on the production and distribution of flavored vaping juices, which are linked to 23 vape-related lung illnesses in the state alone.
Since the initial ban, school officials are still concerned about the number of vaping incidents in public schools, even though it’s too early to tell if that number has increased or declined, according to Tim Robinson from Seattle Public Schools.
The change in age by state law for the purchase of tobacco and nicotine raised from 18 to 21, making it harder for minors to obtain the products. However, there are still adults over the age of 21 who may distribute the substances to minors. Due to the vaping scare, some adults decided to ditch vaping products completely. Others turned to buy products from black markets or traveling out-of-state to obtain the flavored products they want.
Gov. Jay Inslee recently proposed legislation to the House and Senate that would introduce a permanent ban on the products. It would also focus on limiting levels of nicotine in vaping products and requiring a detailed list of ingredients to be given to the Washington State Department of Health. Vape shop owners would be immediately forced to dispose of all flavored products hidden in their stock via sending them out of state, destroying them or giving them back to the manufacturing companies. This may lead to store closures.
We know that some college students use vaping products, as they are seen around campuses in the designated smoking areas. While the potential lift or permanent ban would affect smokers in the state with an outcome dependent on personal views, the question still remains for how non-smokers are impacted by the possible change in state law. Secondhand smoking may affect people in enclosed spaces, but that isn’t the only way non-smokers have been exposed. Young teens may be susceptible to flavored nicotine juices or THC oils by advertisement or through connections. Teens have arguably become at a greater risk to try the products.
To combat the ban back in October, a lawsuit was filed by Baron Enterprises LLC and Vapor Technology Association (VTA) in hopes to deem the emergency ruling invalid. Petition documents for VTA claim that the state’s $484 million industry for vaping would take a huge hit, and 3,400 workers would be affected by this loss. It also claims that people who buy these products may go back to the black market, which would create a health hazard. In Wash. state, an estimated 377 vape shops or businesses carrying these products have either discontinued their licenses or closed, and all have undergone large losses in potential profits.
Long term effects of using vaping products are still unknown, as research still needs to be conducted. As of Jan. 14, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recorded a national amount of 2,268 vaping-related illnesses and 60 confirmed deaths, which has become enough proof to scare many state officials into placing emergency bans over the last few months. From what we do know, the return of flavored vaping products for the industry in Wash. state doesn’t seem likely to happen.
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