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Vaping considered national ‘epidemic,’ community gathers for town hall meeting

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Teenage vaping issues were addressed by the Southern California Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP-CA2) during a community town hall meeting in the El Camino College East Dining Conference Room on Thursday, March 21.

According to the AAP-CA2 fact sheet, an estimated 17.3 percent of high school students have used e-cigarettes.

“In 2018 the US Surgeon General declared e-cigarette use among youth is an epidemic,” Director for the Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Tony Kuo said. “In LA County, one in three teens use e-cigarettes”.

E-cigarette product designs are discreet and sleek, making it easier for teens to conceal. Products such as Juul are tech-driven and conveniently connect to laptops and computers to recharge, like a USB drive.

A national issue

AAP-CA2 Executive Director Tomás Torices said the flavored liquid vaping products or e-cigarettes are becoming a country-wide problem and it’s threatening the health of youth.

LA County Office of Education Program Coordinator Mark Hernandez said most kids don’t know that nicotine is in the products because of the way they’re advertised.

“The products are supposed to be made for adults but the flavor names and product styles are childlike,” Hernandez said. “There’s enough nicotine in one small pod as a pack of cigarettes.”

Kuo said that vaping often starts as a social activity, which is why most teens don’t see vaping as a problem.

Prevention and quitting

AAP-CA2 President Alice Kuo said effective counter-marketing, banning tobacco advertising as well as smoking in public areas are some suggested ways to get smokers to quit.

“Not starting is the best thing, prevention is the strategy,” Alice Kuo said.

If a teen becomes addicted to vaping and nicotine there are three types of medication therapy that can be provided, Alice Kuo said.

“Nicotine Replacement Therapy is the top recommendation for teens, but there’s also Bupropion and Varenicline.” said Alice Kuo “Phone counseling is available to teens through the California Smokers’ Helpline.”

Creating change

At the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, March 19, an e-cigarette ordinance was moved by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and seconded by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis.

“The ordinance will strengthen the existing county smoke-free laws”, said Kuehl. “Prohibiting smoking near all county buildings and parking lots.”

In the town hall meeting, City of Hermosa Beach council member, Jeff Duclos said enforcing a tobacco retailing ordinance in cities will likely reduce the rate of e-cigarette use, making violations subject to penalty.

“The most important thing is to bring awareness to the community,” said Torices.

Calling the district’s Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and sending letters stating that you are against flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes and advocating a ban on the products will help with getting e-cigarette laws and regulations approved, Torices said.

The next Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting addressing the e-cigarette ordinance vote is expected to take place within the next couple of months. No official date has been scheduled as of now.

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Vaping considered national ‘epidemic,’ community gathers for town hall meeting