HONOLULU (KHON2) — State health officials confirmed Thursday that there is now a second severe lung illness case associated with vaping. It involves a young adult from Kauai.
Vaping affects all ages, but nationwide we’re seeing the number of teens who vape at epidemic proportions. Especially in Hawaii where high schoolers vape twice as much as the national average. State lawmakers have looked at banning flavored e-cigarette products in the past, but it never made it all the way through. And now, there are at least two confirmed cases of lung illness associated with vaping this year.
It’s not as hard as you might think for teens to get their hands on electronic smoking devices. One Farrington High School senior says she volunteers to do compliance checks. Samantha Domingo tells us she goes into stores and attempts to buy tobacco products.
“If they ask for I.D., I (say I) don’t have my I.D. with me but then they still sold to me. So it was disappointing to know that stores make sales to minors,” said Samantha.
Banning the sale of flavored tobacco products is being brought up once again.
“We also know that in terms of flavors, they are the major reason why youth say they are using it along with the fact that these are cool products,” said Lola Irvin, Chief of Chronic Disease Prevention.
One vape shop in Waipahu tells us they are not against new regulations and keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors.
“But an outright ban is not going to solve anything. You are putting things back into the black market and you’re not going to be saving anyone. You’re going to be putting cigarettes back in people’s hands,” said Matthew Duran, TCA CBD and Vapor Regional Manager.
We’re also told about 90 percent of sales come from flavored liquids but since this nationwide push to ban or regulate flavored liquids, we’re told some shops are closing here locally.
Cases of lung illnesses related to vaping are being reported more frequently and state lawmakers are under pressure to regulate the e-cigarette industry.
“So you have a bill some of us think is perfectly right and ready to be enacted, others haven’t been educated, don’t see it that way. So sometimes it takes additional information to make those inactions and so that’s what I’m hoping we got more information,” said Senator Rosalyn Baker, Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health Committee Chair.