California parents say Governor’s steps against vaping don’t go far enough

Ritu Jha-

 

Vinita Verma, president of the City of Fremont Council PTA (Parent-Teacher Association), has welcomed California Governor Gavin Newsom’s initiative to combat the growing use of vaping by the younger set. She said, however, that what the Governor has proposed is not enough.

Governor Newsom signed an executive order Monday, Sept 16, to fight the growing youth epidemic and health risks linked to vaping. He directed the Department of Public Health (CDPH) to launch a $20 million state-wide digital and social media public awareness campaign to educate the youth, young adults and parents about the health risks of vaping nicotine and cannabis products.

Vaping refers to the practice of inhaling vapor through the mouth from a usually battery-operated device (such as an electronic cigarette) that heats up and vaporizes a liquid or solid.

Vaping devices are the most commonly used tobacco product in California now. More than 80% of high-school teens who consume tobacco do so with a vaping device. The Governor asked the CDPH to come up with a set of recommendations to reduce smoking
among young adults and teens by establishing warning signs with health risks where vaping products
are sold and on product advertisements.

“We must take immediate action to meet the urgency behind this public health crisis and youth epidemic,” Newsom said. “As a parent, I understand the anxiety caused by the deceptive marketing tactics and flavored options designed to target our kids. With mysterious lung illnesses and deaths on the rise, we have to educate our kids and do everything we can to tackle this crisis.”

Verma, however, told indica, “It is not going to do much; it’s not even scratching the surface. The condition is so bad. We have 7th graders vaping in school.”

She said the city of Fremont banned flavored vaping Monday. “It had been a serious concern in my community and the city of Fremont and other cities surrounding us,” she said.

Asked if Indian-American children are also into vaping, Verma retorted, “Oh yeah, of course! Do you think Indian kids are not from this world?”

One in three kids is vaping in Santa Clara, she said, and 37% of those caught go back to it. Schools do not allow vaping on their premises, but it is very difficult to identify those indulging in it.

Verma said students who are not into vaping complain that it is difficult to go to the bathrooms because of the sweet smell. She said most of the flavors target kids. There are as many as 15,000, ranging from mango and peach to strawberry and cheesecake. There were just 7,000 last year.

“The industry is moving so fast and they only target kids because adults don’t like flavors compared to kids,” she said.

Of the California teens who consume tobacco products, 86.4% use a flavored one, according to government statistics. There are over 15,500 e-liquid flavors, some of which have been proven to cause significant health problems.

Governor Newsom said a broad and bipartisan coalition of legislators is seeking to protect the youth.

“We are committed to working with the legislature and stakeholders to build on these executive actions and put forward a strong tobacco reform package in 2020,” he said.

He also announced that he had signed Senate Bill 39 by Senator Jerry Hill (Dem, San Mateo), which imposes stricter age verification requirements for tobacco products sold online or by mail. From 2016 to 2018, vaping among California high-school students rose 27%. In 2018, 10.9% of California high-school students reported using e-cigarettes and 14.7% reported using cannabis.

As a state, we can no longer stand by as a new generation falls victim to big tobacco, with vaping products that directly target our children,” said state Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr Mark Ghaly.

“The Governor’s action will raise awareness of the dangers of tobacco products and the risks associated with e-cigarettes and vaping, as well as look at enforcement actions that show Californians the gravity of targeting young people and their health.”

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