Clearing the Smoke on Tobacco Control Policy in Public Health

Thursday, October 10, 2019 | 7:52 pm

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) continues to warn residents to STOP VAPING NOW and seeks to clear up misperceptions about e-cigarettes use. Despite ongoing efforts to educate the public about the dangers of vaping, inaccuracies and misperceptions about the role of tobacco control policies, like the flavor ban recently passed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors continue to persist. There can be no doubt that the well-funded lobbying efforts of the tobacco industry are at the core of this campaign, designed to create a false sense of safety for those wishing to vape. In addition to providing an update on lung illnesses and deaths associated with vaping, below we address three common misperceptions about tobacco control policy as it relates to the e-cigarette epidemic.

1. Vaping-associated pulmonary injuries (VAPI), are primarily caused by black-market cannabis products like “Dank Vapes,” as some news reports have suggested

Nationally there have been more than 1,000 cases of VAPI, and 18 confirmed deaths, including one in Los Angeles County. While some of these cases involve the use of products containing cannabis obtained outside of regulated dispensaries, there is absolutely no evidence that these lung injuries were due exclusively to the use of any specific product, with or without cannabis related elements like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In Los Angeles County, some people who became seriously ill did not use vape chemicals containing THC.

2. Vaping devices like e-cigarettes are effective cessation aids, and flavored tobacco bans unnecessarily restrict access to adults looking to quit smoking

Flavor bans are primarily intended to restrict the unscrupulous marketing of flavors to young people and do not include products with regular tobacco flavor. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates nicotine replacement therapy products associated with quitting smoking, has not approved e-cigarettes as a viable cessation aid. Very few manufacturers of e-cigarettes or other vape devices have undergone the FDA process to obtain official certification. It is worth noting that many users of e-cigarettes report that they vape much more than they smoked, which means they are introducing significantly more addictive nicotine into their bodies than ever before.

3. States and cities have been reactionary in rushing to crack down on vaping products

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to proceed with a ban of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes and vape products, for unincorporated Los Angeles County. The Board has been methodical in arriving at this ban, with almost one year of careful deliberation on the subject, and a 180-day implementation runway. Jurisdictions, such as the County of Los Angeles, typically enact tobacco control policies such as the flavor ban with appropriate vetting through their legal counsel, department of consumer affairs, and public health departments. Relevant issues such as ensuring that complementary resources are in place to assist people with nicotine addiction are carefully considered in advance.

Weekly Update on Lung Illnesses and Deaths Associated with Vaping in LA County:

• As of October 09, 2019, there are 4 new reported cases bringing the total to 25 cases of serious vaping- associated pulmonary injury and one death associated with e-cigarettes in Los Angeles County.
• Approximately two out of three cases reported are in individuals age 25 and younger. Both male and female cases have been reported.
• All but one case reported using both e-cigarette and cannabis-type products, not necessarily at the same time. One reported using flavored liquids only (no nicotine, THC, or CBD). Various devices and products were reported and remain under investigation. No specific vendor, product, or substance has been identified as the cause.

Public Health continues to urge healthcare providers to be on the alert for signs of severe respiratory illness among patients who recently used vaping products including e-cigarettes and report cases by phone to Los Angeles County Department of Public Health at 626-299-3504.

For more information about the dangers of vaping and for weekly case updates, visit






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