Vapers Face Crackdown From Illinois Officials Alleging ‘Predatory Behavior’ By Manufacturers

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Officials in a Chicago suburb are calling for new regulations that target popular vaping products over fears they are creating a public health crisis among teens.

The Village Board of Oak Park, Ill., voted Thursday to call on the village’s board of health to consider crafting new rules and restrictions for electronic cigarettes, particularly ways to enforce a 21-year age restriction on all tobacco and nicotine products in the community that passed in June 2016, reported the Chicago Tribune.

Officials in Oak Park said they are concerned over the prevalence of youth experimentation with the JUUL e-cigarette, which is currently dominating sales in the vaping market. Jim Taglia, an Oak Park trustee who first proposed increased regulations on vapor products, alleged that JUUL’s marketing is specifically geared toward teens. (RELATED: Iowa AG Says Teen Vaping Is ‘Hardly An Epidemic’ And Is ‘Life -Saving’ For Adults)

“The thing that’s really upsetting more than anything is they have ad campaigns specifically designed to appeal to youth,” Taglia told the Chicago Tribune. “That’s really predatory behavior, and it shouldn’t be allowed.”

It is unclear what Taglia is referring to with regard to JUUL and other major players in the industry. While a small minority of manufacturers engage in what the Food and Drug Administration considers inappropriate marketing, the broader industry appears committed to doing what they can to keep their products out of the hands of teens.

JUUL Labs announced in April an investment of $30 million over the next three years that will go toward funding independent research into the “scientific and societal implications of vapor products.” They are currently working with Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller of Iowa and a group of public health officials to develop a “transparent” framework for conducting independent research.

JUUL will also back legislation raising the minimum purchasing age on tobacco and nicotine products to 21, although industry experts note this will do little to address access for youths, who typically get the products through a third party like a parent or sibling.

Anti-vaping activists continue to push alarmist claims that vaping is creating a public health “epidemic” among teens and will lead to use of combustible cigarettes, but the numbers simply do not add up.

“We’ve got great and very reliable data from Truth Initiative, they surveyed the kids back in November, and they found 7 percent of kids 15 to 17 had used e-cigarettes once in their lifetime,” Miller said April 30 at the annual E-Cigarette Summit in Washington, D.C. “Hardly an epidemic, hardly a panic.”

Despite the positive research, local governments throughout the country continue to restrict alternative smoking products, relying on dated statistics or predetermined narratives about their alleged dangers.

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Steve Birr

Vice Reporter

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