Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro made an impassioned plea to the FDA Friday to remove all e-cigarettes and vaping products from the market.
Thursday the Connecticut Department of Public Health said there are six new cases of lung-related health issues believed to be connected to vaping, bringing the total in the state to 11. There have been hundreds of cases reported nationwide including six deaths, and no one seems to know what the cause is.
“We cannot stand by idly by while people are falling ill or dying,” said DeLauro. “We must do better.”
DeLauro took aim at the FDA and it’s authority to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. She says the FDA exempted e-cigarettes from a pre-market review process.
“It’s unconscionable to think of what they would allow for an industry to make a profit,” she said.
Several prominent Connecticut health officials stood with DeLauro in agreement.
“There is no safe use of vaping devices,” said Pamela Maurer, director of the Alliance for Prevention and Wellness. “We need to have all vaping devices banned until we can research and study and understand the long term consequences.”
People affected are presenting as though they have a lung infection like bronchitis or pneumonia but it’s not made better by antibiotics. The cause is unknown but one of the objective of a proposed ban is clear.
“It’s important that we get these e-cig off the market and not into the hands of our children,” said Dr. Pnina Weiss, medical director for Pediatric Pulmonary Function Laboratory at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital.
Authorities said Friday that youth are using e-cigarettes in record numbers and among the chief concerns is the way vaping is seemingly being aimed at kids.
“The prolific marketing of these products, using the big tobacco tactics has been a game changer engaging our youth to utilize these products,” added Maurer.
Earlier this week, President Donald Trump called for a ban on vape flavors, some of which mimic ice cream and candy.
“Gummy bears, cotton candy, sour patch. That’s specifically designed to attract our youth,” explained Weiss.
Adam Webster owns The Steam Company, a vaping retailer in Orange. He says he ID’s all his customers and flavors aren’t just for kids. He says adults like flavors because they taste better than tobacco.
Webster, like other vape related business owners, is concerned with the conversation. He says his business has been negatively impacted. He estimates a decline of 30 percent since the illnesses have been reported.
“The big attraction here is that it’s an unknown for some people and it scares them,” he said. “Instead of taking the time to figure out what it’s doing they just want to cut everyone else off at the knees.”
Webster says all his products are made in a certified lab and are from venders that are register with the FDA. He says he thinks people are getting sick because they’re buying illegal products off the street, including THC cartridges.
Webster is a former cigarette smoker who now vapes. He believes vaping is a safe alternative to traditional tobacco and says banning vape products would take away an opportunity for people to quit smoking.
“I personally feel a lot better since I stopped smoking cigarettes and I smoked well over a pack a day,” he said.