U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) denounced what he called a youth vaping epidemic at a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing last week, citing major health concerns surrounding the use of electronic cigarettes.
In a session titled, “Vaping in America: E-Cigarette Manufacturers’ Impact on Public Health,” Walden pointed to data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, which noted 27.5 percent of youth used e-cigarettes in 2019 — a leap from the 11.3 percent usage rates of three years past. While applauding efforts already undertaken by the Trump administration — such as raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 — Walden also urged Congress to investigate the health impacts of approved and unapproved vaping products, while warning of dangers yet to come.
“While these are promising steps, we remain concerned about the counterfeit and black-market products that current e-cigarette users, including our youth, may increasingly turn to when products they currently use may no longer be available in the legitimate marketplace,” Walden said. “I am also concerned about potential shifts in youth usage to other non-cartridge-based e-cigarettes and am interested in hearing from the companies today for their thoughts on how we can prevent this from occurring.”
Vaping has been linked to lung illnesses and is associated with deaths in 27 states. In January, the Food and Drug Administration issued guidance prioritizing enforcement against unauthorized e-cigarette cartridge flavors seemingly aimed at kids, such as those that taste like fruits or mint.