LETTER: Vaping deserves more scrutiny
Existing research indicates that vaping suppresses immune function in the lungs and can cause severe inflammation in the airways, which over time heightens the risk of developing chronic lung conditions. Chronic lung conditions and suppressed immunity are factors associated with more severe coronavirus cases.
According to the most recent National Youth Tobacco Survey, 27.5% of high school students and 10.5% of middle school students reported current e-cigarette use. These numbers are similar to the most recent Florida Tobacco Youth Survey which states 26.5% of high school students and 11.2% of middle school students reported current e-cigarette use.
Children in Florida are ten times more likely to be vaping than smoking cigarettes or using smokeless tobacco.
These numbers are alarmingly high because e-cigarette/vape shops are not required to get a retail license based on how the state currently defines tobacco products.
There are no statistics on selling to underage children by unregulated vape shops because they are unregulated. Vape shops are not inspected.
Thus the urgent need for regulation to insure vape shops do not sell to minors.
Last year Alachua County implemented a local tobacco retail licensing ordinance which was well-received by retailers. It requires vape shops to obtain a retail license and it does not grant tobacco retail licenses for locations that are within one thousand feet of a public school.
A local tobacco retail ordinance is urgently needed to stop this vaping pandemic that is poisoning our youth. It should allow for the suspension and revocation of tobacco licenses of stores that violate tobacco/vaping regulations. It should have a license fee to cover the enforcement cost for retail inspections and unannounced compliance checks, the administration cost for the licensing program, and retailer education and training.
Let us urge our county commissioners and other elected officials to implement tobacco retail licensing policies that include vape shops to make our communities significantly healthier for all of our citizens, young and old.
John Michael Pierobon, Tobacco-Free Partnership of Broward County