Hawaii is considering a proposal to ban flavored e-cigarette liquids in order to control teenage vaping, which is described by public health officials as an epidemic.
The bill, if passed, would make Hawaii the first U.S. state to adopt the measure.
Hawaii To Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes
The Hawaii Health Department published a report in 2017 that revealed 16 percent of middle school students and 26 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes. The National Youth Tobacco Survey, meanwhile, found that youth vaping increased 78 percent in 2018 across the United States.
The goal of the bill is to make e-cigarettes and other tobacco products unpalatable to young users.
"They look at cigarettes and they say, 'Cigarettes are disgusting. Tobacco is disgusting,'" said Trish La Chica, a lobbyist for the Hawaii Public Health Institute. "So take away the cotton candy, take away the flavors that look like they belong in an ice cream shop, and they wouldn't be attracted to start in the first place."
The proposal will affect all flavors of e-cigarette liquids such as Cookie Monsta and Maui Mango, with the exemption of menthol. San Francisco has adopted a similar measure in 2017, becoming the first city in the United States to do so.
Students testified before lawmakers and described their experiences around schoolmates who vape. A high school sophomore shared that students use e-cigarettes in the school bathroom, exposing everyone else to vape clouds that give them a headache.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the nicotine and other harmful substances in e-cigarettes might harm brain development of children and teenagers. Those who use e-cigarettes in their youth are also twice more likely to transition to cigarettes as adults.
FDA's Fight Against Teen Vaping
The Food and Drug Administration is also adopting stricter measures to limit the accessibility of e-cigarettes among the youth. In the new guidelines released earlier this month, e-cigarette companies are instructed to restrict the sales of flavored vaping products to stores that will verify the age of the consumer or establish a special age-restricted section for vaping products.
The agency will also remove products that appeal to kids such as those that resemble the packaging of juice boxes and cookies.