As the number of local vaping-related illnesses continues to rise, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer called for a citywide ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products.
“Flavored tobacco plays an outsized role in the vaping epidemic confronting our youth and has long been a factor in increasing demand for traditional tobacco products,” Feuer said. “Enacting a citywide ban on the sale of all flavored tobacco products is the best way to safeguard our youth and protect the general public from significant health risks.”
Feuer sent a report to the City Council outlining restrictions that have been enacted in other cities and states that aim to curtail sales of electronic cigarettes, hookah devices and other products that distribute nicotine. Some of the prohibitions suggested include regulating vaping advertising or coupons, as well as consideration of an outright ban on the substances and devices.
“With the introduction of e-cigarettes … flavored products were reintroduced to a new generation of our youth with resulting increase in youth tobacco usage,” according to the city attorney’s report. “The current health crisis was a predictable result and so too should be the city’s response.”
The Food and Drug Administration has been using criminal investigators to examine illnesses related to using vaping products, Mitch Zeller, the director of the Center for Tobacco Products for the FDA, said Thursday.
“Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working tirelessly to investigate the distressing incidents of severe respiratory illness associated with use of vaping products,” according to the FDA website. “The FDA and CDC are working closely with state and local health officials to investigate these incidents as quickly as possible, and we are committed to taking appropriate actions as a clearer picture of the facts emerges.”
According to federal officials, more than 500 illnesses related to vaping have been reported nationwide, and at least seven people have died.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Thursday again warned residents about the use of vaping and electronic cigarette devices, as they are potentially harmful to proper lung function.
According to health officials, there have been 16 “serious” vaping-associated pulmonary injuries and one death associated with electronic cigarettes or vaping devices in Los Angeles County. Other reported cases around the nation noted similar symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, fever and possible vomiting and diarrhea.
Officials said about two-thirds of the vaping illness cases reported were in people younger than 25. Both male and female cases have been reported. All but one reported using both an e-cigarette and a cannabis-type product, not necessarily at the same time.
One reported using flavored liquids only with no nicotine and it didn’t contain THC or CBD, the elemental compounds that produce effects from smoking cannabis. Various devices and products were reported and remain under investigation, the county stated, and no specific vendor, product or substance has been identified as the cause.
People can report vaping cases to the Department of Public Health at 626-299-3504.
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