Cancer patients, survivors and health advocates called Thursday for a ban on all flavored tobacco and vapes, pushing also to raise taxes on flavored e-cigarettes.
More than 100 Boston residents gathered in its Beacon Hill neighborhood to demand changes to the state’s smoking laws after increasing numbers of youths have started using flavored nicotine vapes.
“They are marketed and sold to our youth and our youth are getting sick and they have no idea what the consequences are,” said Democratic Rep. Danielle W. Gregoire, lead sponsor of a proposal to ban flavored e-cigarettes, The Boston Globe reported.
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that raises both blood pressure and adrenaline, increasing the likelihood of having a heart attack, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Usage of e-cigarettes has increased dramatically among youths. High school students using e-cigarettes increased by 900 percent from 2011 to 2015, according to U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams.
Tobacco Free Mass, an anti-smoking coalition, is pushing for legislation that would tax e-cigarettes as well as raise taxes on cigars and cigarettes.
The proposal seeks to place a 75-percent excise tax on e-cigarettes, according to the Globe.
“We need revenue, but more importantly we need to continue saving lives,” Democratic Rep. Marjorie Decker said. “When you increase taxes on tobacco, you lower rates on new smokers coming in,” Decker said, The Globe reported. “It works.”
Thursday’s call to ban flavored vapes comes after the Food and Drug Administration proposed a measure that would mandate establishments serving all ages to have separate age-restricted rooms designated for e-cigarettes.
States have also taken it upon themselves to regulate the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products. Massachusetts passed a law in December 2018 that raised the legal tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21.
Hawaii is also considering banning flavored tobacco and e-cigarette liquids in an effort to fight the rapid increase in teenagers vaping, according to the Star Tribune.
The state already requires tobacco and e-cigarette purchasers to be at least 21 to buy the products.
Teenage vaping has risen 78 percent between 2017 and 2018, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, the Tribune reported.
More than 3.6 million youths use nicotine vapes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Globe reported.
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