Members of a Los Angeles-based coalition and local school officials Thursday called on the City Council to finalize a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products.
The Families Fighting Flavored Tobacco coalition made their demands at John Marshall High School in Los Feliz, saying the rate of teens using flavored tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes, is rising.
They also said they are concerned tobacco companies will try to weaken any proposed laws by adding exemptions.
“We are here to join others in the cause to stop this epidemic,” Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “The money we are spending to deal with the trauma vaping is bringing into our schools is money not spent on instruction. Today we are continuing to fight to ensure those responsible will pay the price to repair the harm done to our students, our schools and the communities we serve.”
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Thursday that a new vaping-illness case was reported, bringing its 2019 total to 30 cases of serious pulmonary injury and one death in the county associated with e-cigarettes.
Many of the lung-related illnesses reported showed users inhaled products marketed as containing THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, and news outlets around the country have pointed to the black market as a possible source of the problems.
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz in October proposed banning electronic cigarette devices and products from being sold in the city until they’re approved by the federal government and deemed safe.
“The reports of illness and death caused by unregulated vaping devices is a public health crisis,” Koretz’s motion stated. “The city of Los Angeles is not content to wait and do nothing as the numbers of illnesses and even deaths associated with unregulated vaping devices increases daily.”
Koretz noted that San Francisco has already taken steps to ban e-cigarette products. His motion has not yet been heard in a council committee.
Coalition members said they want the City Council to ban all flavored tobacco products, including menthol, cigarillos and hookahs. In Los Angeles, more than one-third of high school students have tried e-cigarettes, the coalition stated.
In September, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to eliminate the sale of those products in its unincorporated parts.
“I don’t even want to use the bathroom at school because there are girls vaping in there,” Kyara Artola, a senior at John Marshall High School, said in a statement from the coalition. “Flavored tobacco products are everywhere in my community and so easy to buy, even if you’re under 21.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Tuesday, there were more than 2,000 reports of lung illnesses related to vaping nationwide and 39 deaths have been confirmed in 24 states.
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