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FDA flavor ban seen as having little impact on Nevada vaping scene

The federal ban announced Thursday on fruit and mint flavored e-cigarette cartridges will have little impact on Nevada vape shops because it exempts most of the products they sell, an industry spokesman said.

Not surprisingly, state and local public health authorities maintain the ban doesn’t go far enough.

The ban focuses on e-cigarette cartridges, the type of product sold by industry leader Juul, which in the face of criticism already had stopped selling the flavors that are now prohibited.

“This cartridge flavor ban will have a limited effect on vape shops in Nevada who sell mainly non-cartridge systems,” said Alex Mazzola, president of the Nevada Vaping Association. “Consumers will continue to be able to find most of the products they have come to expect in vapes shop across the state.”

The Trump administration announced that it will prohibit fruit, candy, mint and dessert flavors from cartridges to curb the growing use by teens of e-cigarettes, battery-powered devices that deliver an aerosol by heating a liquid that can contain nicotine, flavoring and other substances.

But menthol and tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes will be allowed to remain on the market.

‘E-liquid’ exemption

The ban exempts “e-liquid” products for the large, tank-based vaping devices sold in vape shops, which cater to adults. The cartridge products favored by teens typically are sold in convenience stores. Last month, the legal age for purchasing e-cigarette products was raised to 21 nationwide.

“If the intent of the ban was to reduce youth usage, then eliminating all favors including mint and menthol in all forms of tobacco including electronic vaping products would have been ideal and most effective,” said Malcolm Ahlo, tobacco prevention and control coordinator for the Southern Nevada Health District.

“We’ll be working closely with local community leaders and our student teen tobacco prevention and control groups to see if there’s anything we can do locally to strengthen the current ban, like other states have done,” he said.

The gold standard of regulation, he said, can be found in Massachusetts, which has banned all flavored tobacco products, including menthol and mint, in both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

“The FDA ban on some flavored e-cigarettes seems to be a step in the right direction to curb the use of e-cigarettes by youth and young adults, but more work needs to be done,” said Dr. Ihsan Azzam, chief medical officer for the Division of Public and Behavioral Health of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.

More than 16 percent of Nevada adults ages 18 to 24 report using e-cigarettes, according to the national Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, he said.

“The Division of Public and Behavioral Health will keep a close watch on the situation by continuing to monitor and investigate all vaping-related lung injury cases that occur in Nevada,” he said.

Six lung injury cases in Clark County

There have been six confirmed cases of severe lung related injury related to vaping in Clark County as part of a recent outbreak. Nationwide, there have been more than 2,500 cases and 55 deaths, none of them in Nevada, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most of the patients involved in the outbreak said they had vaped products containing THC, the ingredient that creates the high in marijuana. The investigation into the cause of the lung injury is focused on THC cartridges purchased on the black market. It also has zeroed in on vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent added to some THC vaping liquids, as a “chemical of concern.”

Products with THC can be purchased not in vape shops but in marijuana dispensaries or on the black market.

“All we say is that people shouldn’t be vaping anything,” Ahlo said. “The only thing that should be going into your lungs is clean air.”

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

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