It’s time to curb the vaping epidemic

Published 9:21 am Friday, September 27, 2019

With the news that the Mississippi State Department of Health reported its first death associated with vaping, it’s time we take a stand against a potential killer many believe to be safer than cigarettes.

E-cigarettes have been marketed as such, and as a solution for those who want to quit smoking. And much like “Big Tobacco” did a generation ago, officials claim e-cigarette manufacturers are gearing their marketing efforts to the younger crowd.

Flavors like grape slushie, strawberry cotton candy, creme brûlée and mint increase the appeal to teens, despite users having to be 18 years or older to purchase. Hidden in the flavors are high levels of nicotine, which many youth don’t realize they are inhaling.

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The victim of the vaping associated death was under the age of 30, and the state has identified four additional cases of serious lung injury related to vaping, all in individuals 18 to 34 years of age.

No reports have been shared for those under 18 years of age, but federal health officials said earlier this month that preliminary data shows more than 1 in 4 high school students reported vaping this year, compared with 1 in 5 students in 2018.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said, “Any death related to vaping is one too many, and this is entirely preventable.”

We stand firmly with Byers. Illness or death associated with vaping is preventable. 

The state has made a good faith effort in prevention work by taking part in a national investigation into severe pulmonary disease and lung injury linked to the use of e-cigarette products. Educating the public, and especially parents, about the dangers of e-cigarettes will aid in curbing the epidemic. 

A few local governments, like San Francisco, have passed bans on flavored tobacco. And this month Michigan moved to become the first state to ban flavored electronic cigarettes. Mississippi may have to follow suit to turn the trend on increasing e-cigarette use.