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E-cigarettes and Vaping Epidemic Across The United States

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As a middle schooler, my father warned me of the dangers of smoking. His incessant resistance to cigarette use began after he saw its deteriorating effects on my late grandmother. Both his warnings and her struggle to breathe discouraged me from using cigarettes. I applied this same principle to e-cigarettes and vaping. Vaping became increasingly popular during my eighth-grade year, and by my freshman year of high school, a large percentage of my peers owned and hid their illegally obtained vape from both parents and school faculty members. This crowd of “vapers” continued to grow throughout high school with the introduction of new products such as juuls, infinixes, and sourins. This group became so large in fact, that as a senior in high school I fell into a minority of students who did not regularly use a vape.

Today, I am grateful for my lack of susceptibility to peer pressure amongst the recent vaping epidemic sweeping across the United States. According to Colin Dwyer in “Store Owners Resist State Vaping Bans As ‘A Death Sentence for Their Business,’” over 800 cases of lung damage have been reported across the country due to a history of e-cigarettes or vapes, twelve of which have resulted in death. These startling statistics prompted government action to suppress vaping use through bans on e-cigarettes and e-cigarette flavorings. These bans; however, are facing intense criticism. Although I believe more regulation on vaping products is necessary, San Diego should not issue a citywide ban on all e-cigarette products because there are better alternatives to protect teens and still allow legal e-cigarette access.

The FDA holds regulative authority over e-cigarette products, and although their main priority is prohibiting the sale of these products to minors, the recent vaping epidemic has pressured Trump’s administration to propose a ban on e-cigarette flavors as well. Despite this, Trump is not the first to encourage a ban on e-cigarette flavors. Dwyer points out that Michigan led the ban on flavored vaping products, and other states have since followed suit. In a similar manner, Dwyer acknowledged further measures taken by some states to stop sales of all vaping products such as Massachusetts’s Governor Charlie Baker. Governor Baker called the vaping epidemic a “public health emergency,” before banning the distribution of all vaping products for four months. Baker desires to properly diagnose the causes of the recent lung-related outbreaks, to better supervise the distribution of vaping products, and to protect his residents’ safety. Without federal backing, both Baker’s bans and the vaping flavor bans are in direct violation of the supremacy clause, which states that federal rule is superior to state rule unless federal laws conflict with the Constitution. Because the federal law is supreme, regardless of what a state may wish to do, they must remain within the boundaries of the Constitution, including the supremacy clause. These bans demonstrate an executive overreach by violating state constitution separation-of-powers principles, and many vape shop owners agree. Since their establishment, these bans have provoked vape shop owners to file lawsuits against state governments, claiming the bans are unconstitutional. The bans have infuriated owners who abide by federal law by selling FDA approved products. They believe the bans not only abuse state authority by evading federal regulations, but that they also disrupt vape trade with other states without a federal law, violating the commerce clause. In addition to negative criticism and legal challenges, states’ bans have raised concerns about possible increases in cigarette use and illicit products.

According to the Editors in “The Absurd Campaign against Vaping,” cigarette smoking among America’s youth has diminished since the 1990s; however, Dwyer argues e-cigarette bans could push vape users to cigarette use. According to Dana G. Smith in “How Juul Exploited Teens’ Brains to Hook them on Nicotine,” teen e-cigarette use rose by 75% during 2018 mainly due to the introduction of juul. Since its debut, juul has hooked teenagers with its high nicotine dosage, leading some to believe that if vape use becomes illegal, nicotine addicted teenagers and former smokers may turn to cigarette use instead. If not cigarette use, some vapers may resort to the black market. The Editors claim the current lung-related hospitalizations and deaths involve the illegal misuse of vaping, and Rob Kuznia who wrote, “Potential Culprits in mystery lung illnesses: Black market vaping products,” agrees. Kuznia believes the majority of sick patients purchased their vape products on the black market which could be the culprit of the recent lung injuries. Due to the lack of government regulation as well as California’s crackdown on THC oil, many illicit products contain THC and other thickening agents such as vitamin E acetate. As a result, a ban on legally regulated vape products may lead to possible negative consequences such as an increase in black market participation.

There are many different ways to lower teenage e-cigarette use without the dangerous consequences of a full e-cigarette ban. The Editors claim the government is capable of policing the sale of vaping products in a similar manner to tobacco and alcohol believing, “not all national policy needs to be organized around miscreant children.” The Editors offered other courses of action such as shutting down offending vaping shops, pulling business licenses, and putting chain-store managers in jail. Fortunately, it seems as though the FDA has already begun to institute these practices because Smith and Kuznia’s articles discussed current FDA actions to crack down on juul’s sale to minors and to investigate illicit distributors linked to the lung-related epidemics. Research conducted by the U.S. Surgeon General in “E-Cigarette Use Among Youth And Youth Adults,” offers other promising options to lower teen e-cigarette use. Studies prove elastic demand between teenagers and e-cigarettes, so San Diego should raise e-cigarette products’ prices to lower overall teen e-cigarette use. Another study demonstrated a direct relationship between advertising exposure and the initiation of smoking. To combat this, San Diego should institute laws limiting e-cigarette advertising to reduce teens susceptibility to smoking and prevent them from adapting smoking behaviors. Additionally, many teenagers lack knowledge about vaping risks, believing vapes to be harm free. Although vaping offers benefits to cigarette combustion, there are still many negative side effects. To raise awareness of these possible health detriments, campaigns should be created to better inform teens about vaping risks to promote healthy, non-smoking lifestyles.

San Diego has many options to protect teens from vaping without the dangerous effects of an outright e-cigarette ban. A citywide ban on e-cigarette products may result in an economic overreach, increased cigarette use, and black-market activity which would undermine federal regulation benefits. Better options include black-market crackdowns to prevent the production and distribution of illicit vape products as well as increased vape prices, regulations on vape marketing, and awareness campaigns on the dangers of vaping. Without a clear common cause between the lung-related injuries, more research must be conducted before issuing a total ban on products which may not even be the true cause of the current outbreak.

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E-Cigarettes and Vaping Epidemic across the United States. (2022, April 08). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 24, 2023, from
“E-Cigarettes and Vaping Epidemic across the United States.” GradesFixer, 08 Apr. 2022,
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