Teens are still vaping despite efforts to curb the problem with new age limits. On December 20 of 2019 the US Food and Drug Administration officially raised the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. This includes e-cigarettes and any vaping product that contains nicotine. Unfortunately, the new law doesn’t seem to be slowing vaping among high school age kids.
Just this week two teachers and three students in a Madison, Indiana high school were hospitalized with suspected vaping related illnesses. Earlier this month, nine students were taken to the hospital with vaping related illnesses. Some of the children had stopped breathing and their hearts had stopped beating. Madison Mayor Bob Courtney says he’s treating the situation as a public health emergency. “From what we’ve been told, there’s two or three chemicals that have been added to the vaping device cartridges, and I think that in combination with the nicotine that’s there overwhelms not only our youth who are vaping this chemical but also anybody who touches it,” Courtney said.
Indiana is not alone. Despite tobacco products already being illegal for anyone under 18 to purchase, schools across the country report an alarming use of vaping products in schools. Nationwide efforts to ban flavored vaping cartridges that appeal to youth have been helpful. But some anti-vaping advocates feel it’s too little too late. It’s no longer the teen favorite,” says Meredith Berkman, co-founder of the advocacy group PAVE, Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes. “Among the disposables [that] are most popular, there’s Puff Bar, there’s Stig, there’s Viigo,” Berkman says. They’re designed for one-time use. Then, they’re tossed, she explains. “These have just flooded the market,” Berkman says.
The Puff Bar is an extremely popular product,” says Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a developmental psychologist at Stanford University. One bar has about 300 puffs and can contain about as much nicotine as two or three packs of cigarettes. She recently received a bag of confiscated vape sticks and pens from a high school principal in norther California. “When I laid them out, the majority of them are disposable products,” Halpern-Felsher says. “They come in lots of flavors, colors, [they’re] very attractive to youth and that’s what we’re seeing them using the most right now.”