We received the following monthly column information from the office of Representative Thomas Albert.
It’s time to protect Michigan’s children from vaping, e-cigarette hazards
By Sen. Rick Outman and Rep. Thomas Albert
The U.S. Surgeon General recently declared youth e-cigarette usage an “epidemic.” In a 2018 Centers for Disease Control survey, roughly one in five high school students reported using them in the previous month – up 78 percent from the prior year.
We simply aren’t doing enough to protect Michigan’s children from these harmful and addictive products. Our kids seem to be getting the wrong message — that vaping is safe and fashionable. It’s time we take this danger seriously, which is why we recently introduced Senate Bill 106 and House Bill 4164 in the Michigan Legislature – proposals to prohibit minors from buying and possessing these harmful products.
E-cigarette advocates contend they are a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. But that is by no means proof that vaping is safe. Jumping off a three-story building is still reckless, even if it seems less reckless than jumping off a 15-floor skyscraper.
E-cigarettes contain highly addictive nicotine. Vaping liquid is also full of other unknown and unregulated chemicals, and it’s becoming apparent these chemicals are harmful. A Harvard study reported that 39 of 51 examined e-cigarette flavors contained diacetyl, which is commonly associated with “popcorn lung” – the nickname for bronchiolitis obliterans, a condition that damages airways, making sufferers cough and short of breath.
These hazardous products are marketed to be attractive to our kids. Many of these devices are colorful and made to look harmless, and they are hard to detect in our schools – including a version that looks just like a computer USB flash drive.
Local school administrators are concerned and demanding action.
We can’t wait on the federal government, which has been waffling on e-cigarette regulations for years – failing to set a clear or consistent path. It’s up to us in Michigan to stop allowing mixed messages and to start protecting our kids.
Right now, the state has no law prohibiting the sale or possession of these highly addictive nicotine-based products. Since e-cigarettes are not classified as a tobacco product, the regulations associated with traditional tobacco products do not apply.
Senate Bill 106 and House Bill 4164 will protect our kids with a commonsense ban against these health hazards.
The long-term health effects of vaping are endangering our youth. We can’t sit around and wait – this problem is spiraling out of control. We must act now.
(Sen. Rick Outman, of Six Lakes, represents the 33rd District in the Michigan Senate. Rep. Thomas Albert, of Lowell, represents the 86th District in the Michigan House.)