Vt. health officials say youth vaping remains top concern

Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 4:48 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The FDA last week took the step of trying to ban the sale of certain Juul vaping products from the U.S. market, an action halted by a judge the next day. Despite the dramatic effort, Vermont health officials say vaping among youth remains a top concern.

“We know it’s still a problem,” said Rhonda Williams, the tobacco control program chief with the Vermont Department of Health.

She says before summer break, schools reported that vaping products -- including juul -- are still being used widely by students on school grounds, in both classrooms and bathrooms. “In its use of high concentration of nicotine is an especial threat. At 5% concentration, this is more than a pack of cigarettes, and the exposure to nicotine at this level has real consequences for youth,” Williams said.

In an effort to try to curb teen vaping across the country, the FDA last week announced a ban against Juul products, but a federal appeals court issued a temporary halt to the ban.

In a statement from Juul Labs, the company writes “We remain confident in our science and evidence and are pursuing all of our legal and regulatory options to continue to advance our mission.”

Twenty-one is the legal age to buy those products in Vermont. Lawmakers have tried to pass a bill banning the sale of flavored vape products but that bill died in the Economic Development Committee. “The economic pressures from some folks, from some retailers, and some misunderstanding about the value of flavors for people trying to quit -- those two things really got in the way of the bill moving forward,” said Sen. Ginny Lyons, D-Chittenden County.

Retailers like Sweet G Smokeshop in South Burlington say they stopped carrying Juul products months ago and those arguments over the many other flavored vapes and tobacco products on the market have no basis. “There’s a million alcohol flavors out there, too. We take so much pride in our local breweries that look at the tasting notes -- its fruity flavors -- so why isn’t that gaining any traction?” said store owner Jordan Holstein. He says if laws were enacted, people would still find a way to get the products. “They’re not going to stop. They’re going to get them somewhere. They’re going to get them off the street and then nobody know’s what’s inside of those vapes.”

Vermont health officials say there are several resources to help teens quit vaping, including organizations such as “My Life My Quit.”

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