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Bloomberg Spends $160 Million To Fight Vaping Epidemic

Bloomberg logo on smartphone screen.  

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged $160 million to a campaign to end teen vaping. This comes amid what is often referred to as a “vaping epidemic” among young people, which includes numerous illnesses and deaths believed to be linked to vaping.

Bloomberg released a statement to the media after announcing his new campaign, saying that e-cigarette companies prey on America’s youth. His statement said e-cigarette companies are using the same marketing tactics tobacco companies once used, and the result is an epidemic that puts young people at risk of addiction and other serious health problems.

The initiative that Bloomberg pledged the money to will be operated through his philanthropic organization. The goal will be the ban of flavored e-cigarettes, which are believed to be one of the more appealing elements that draw teens to vaping. Other goals include ending e-cigarette marketing appealing to young people, and stopping the online sale of e-cigarettes until improved age-verification measures are put in place.

Rise of Teen E-Cigarette Use

According to data cited by the Bloomberg Philanthropies, more than 3.6 million kids in the United States use e-cigarettes. This includes one in five high school students, and 97% of young people who use e-cigarettes use flavored types. Thirty-three states have launched investigations into cases of lung illnesses related to vaping, most of which involve teens and young people. There has been a 78% increase in e-cigarette use among high school students in just the past year alone.

Many wonder, with such staggering statistics, is vaping illegal for minors? The answer is yes, but teenage vaping statistics show that these laws aren’t doing enough to keep e-cigarettes and vaping devices out of the hands of teens.

Increase in Vaping Illnesses

As of mid-November, at least 42 people have died as a result of what health officials attribute to vaping-related illnesses. The number of both confirmed and probable lung injury cases is more than 2,170. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the effects of vaping on lungs and illness caused by vaping have affected every state except Alaska. Deaths have occurred in 24 states.

Call to Ban Flavored Vaping Devices

There have been calls for a vape ban. The Trump administration did announce plans to ban the majority of flavored vaping products two months ago, but that has stalled. When President Trump initially announced his plan for a flavored vape ban, he said he hoped that it would put a dent in the use of e-cigarettes among youth. However, pushback from the vaping industry, as well as political pressures from voters may have led to a slowdown in the plans to enact that ban.

Recently officials in California announced the introduction of a lawsuit against Juul, which is the top manufacturer of vaping products in the country. The lawsuit alleges Juul marketed its products to young people and teens through social media campaigns, ads and other forms of marketing as well as with the use of influencers pushing their products. The lawsuit cites Juul’s marketing of fruity flavors in particular, which could be appealing to kids and young people. The lawsuit goes on to allege that Juul marketed to kids they knew were underage.

Juul has responded to mounting criticism, saying that they are focused on earning the trust of society by ensuring they combat underage use of their products.

Sources:

Fordham, Evie. “Michael Bloomberg starts $160 million fight against teen vaping.” Fox Business, September 10, 2019. Accessed November 19, 2019.

Cullen KA, Ambrose BK, Gentzke AS, Apelberg BJ, Jamal A, King BA. Notes from the Field: Use of Electronic Cigarettes and Any Tobacco Product Among Middle and High School Students — United States, 2011–2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Report, November 16, 2019. Accessed November 19, 2019.

Keck, Catie. “California Is Suing Juul for Allegedly Targeting Kids with Its Bad Marketing.” Gizmodo, November 18, 2019. Accessed November 19, 2019.

Harris, Richard. “Politics, Industry Backlash Stall White House Ban on Flavored Vaping Products.” NPR, November 18, 2019. Accessed November 19, 2019.

Hein, Alexandria. “Vaping death toll hits 42, over 2,100 lung illnesses reported nationwide.” Fox News, November 2019. Accessed November 19, 2019.

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