The decision on Monday to stop banning the sale of flavored vape products is ridiculous.
Originally instituted to address 2019’s rapidly escalating vape-related deaths, Washington state’s emergency ban went beyond its main purpose and became an effective preventative measure keeping this strain of addictive substances out of the hands of more young people.
Unfortunately, current amendments made Monday to Senate Bill 6254 will let flavored products be restocked as soon as today — the ban itself expired Thursday.
The drastically revised legislation now allows for the sale of such products to clients 21 and older, although it still bans products containing Vitamin E acetate — the cause of last year’s vape-related deaths, limits nicotine levels and puts a 37% excise tax on flavored vape products.
Introducing the changes, Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, said that, though the ban was appropriate at the time, the lethal component of the problem has been addressed. The legislation, Cleveland argues, “continues to meet primary goals,” like preventing vape-related deaths.
Although the culprit of last year’s vape deaths has been caught, a larger issue still remains: An ever increasing number of young people are accessing these harmful products.
The Seattle Times reported that, “in 2019, more than 5 million youths vaped — an increase of about 1.4 million since 2018,” prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to declare youth vapor use an epidemic.
Weighing in on the issue, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as reported in The Seattle Times, said that “even legal products are harmful to young people, and the high levels of nicotine can hinder brain development and impact learning, memory, and attention span.”
Even more worrisome, “young people who vape are more likely to smoke regular cigarettes in the future.”
Redress for this issue was half way to full implementation. Backing off from passing the ban, however, is not only a disappointment, but a disservice to the future and health of our youth.
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