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SD Public Health Official Supports Ban on Flavored E-Cigarettes

More than one in four U.S. high school students surveyed said they used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, with the “overwhelming majority” choosing fruit and menthol or mint flavors, according to the CDC. (Krystian-Graba/Pixabay)
More than one in four U.S. high school students surveyed said they used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, with the “overwhelming majority” choosing fruit and menthol or mint flavors, according to the CDC. (Krystian-Graba/Pixabay)
September 13, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – South Dakota's state epidemiologist says he supports a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, a proposal the Trump administration said this week that it's considering.

Dr. Joshua Clayton says many people think e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes, even though long-term health effects are unknown. He says teens find the flavored products appealing – but could be setting themselves up for a lifetime addiction to tobacco.

"And I think the focus on banning flavored products is a very good step in the right direction, so that we're not using bubble gum flavoring, which is very directed toward the youth population," says Clayton.

On Monday, Clayton confirmed two cases of vaping-related illness in South Dakota among 20- to 24-year-olds. The state joins 33 others reporting cases of severe respiratory illness from e-cigarettes.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says of the hundreds of cases, at least six people have died from the mysterious lung ailment.

Clayton says the percentage of high school students nationwide trying e-cigarettes is on the rise, and many are finding ways to use them covertly while in school, including wearing hoodie sweatshirts designed to hide vaping accessories.

"There are a lot of ways to hide these products so that school officials aren't able to confiscate them," says Clayton. “There's even one product that looks like a watch – and then, you can take off the face of the watch and vape with that."

E-cigarettes were touted as a transitional step to get people to quit traditional tobacco products.

The Food and Drug Administration is now finalizing guidance to remove all non-tobacco flavors of e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol, from the market within 30 days. Companies may, however, be able to reintroduce their flavors at a later date.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD