Louisiana House Committee Votes to Ban Flavored E-Liquids
The Louisiana House Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would ban flavored nicotine-based e-liquids. The vote on Thursday was 7-3 in favor of House Bill 179, which was introduced by Rep. William Wheat. The aim of the bill is to address the rising use of vapor and tobacco products by young people, which Wheat describes as being “in epidemic proportions.” However, Brian King, the head of the US Food and Drug Administration’s tobacco center, recently stated that there is currently no vaping “epidemic.”
During the committee hearing, witnesses testified about the dangers of vaping, including the mother of a Baton Rouge boy who reportedly died after using vapor and nicotine products. According to Wheat, a study found that 52% of high school students have tried e-cigarettes, which is three times the number reported in a study conducted in 2015.
The Louisiana Department of Health’s 2019 youth tobacco survey indicates that 15% of middle school students and 32% of high school students in Louisiana currently vape. However, the trend of youth vaping has decreased significantly since 2019. According to the AP, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2022, only 14% of high school students vape nationally.
Although a previous bill was passed that made it illegal for someone under 21 years old to purchase tobacco and nicotine products, younger people are still able to obtain them. Wheat acknowledges that the proposed bill is not a perfect solution, but it is an important first step in addressing the issue.
“HB 179 is not a perfect answer,” Wheat said. “But it is our job to make the first step.”
Opponents of the bill argue that it would have a negative impact on small businesses that sell flavored e-liquids. However, Wheat believes that the health of young people is more important than business interests.
The bill must now be considered by the full House of Representatives before it can become law. If it passes, Louisiana will become the second state after Massachusetts to ban flavored e-cigarettes. Several cities and municipalities across the United States have also enacted similar bans.
The debate around the regulation of e-cigarettes and vaping products like e-liquids is ongoing. While some argue that these products can help smokers quit, others believe that they may be a gateway to traditional tobacco use for young people. The long-term health effects of vaping are still not fully understood, and researchers continue to study the issue. In the meantime, lawmakers are working to strike a balance between public health concerns and individual freedoms.
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