For years, the so-called “vaping” industry has been booming, with small businesses popping up all around the country selling flavored nicotine products advertised as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.
But there have long been concerns about just how “safe” e-cigarettes are, in particular due to the prevalence of artificial flavorings that appeal to a younger demographic.
In recent weeks, a spate of illnesses possibly related to these flavorings have emerged, causing the White House to consider drastic action.
“The Trump Administration is making it clear that we intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”
Michigan became the first state to prohibit sales of most flavored e-cigarettes last week in a bold move to curb the underage vaping epidemic. The ban, which will take effect in a few weeks, will cover both online and in-store sales of all e-cigarette flavors except tobacco.
San Francisco was the first major U.S. city to ban e-cigarettes, in a measure city supervisors passed unanimously in June.
At the heart of the issue is Vitamin E acetate – an oily substance used in the flavoring of these liquids that was once believed to be safe in vapor form. It is now believed that the substance is possibly returning to its liquid form after ingestion, coating the lungs of users.
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