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North Carolina Suing Eight E-Cigarette Makers in Teen Vaping Dispute

Two teen boys smoking electronic cigarette outside in a park by a tree.  

Public health officials and federal and state governments are consistently warning about the striking increase in teen vaping and the risks associated with e-cigarettes and teen use. For example, a new survey cited in February 2019 by the National Institutes of Health showed what was described as an “alarming rise” in the number of teens in America who tried vaping last year. The study also indicated that vaping is likely tied to an increase in teen nicotine use.

Juul, which is the largest e-cigarette and vaping company, has been the target of much of the concern regarding youth vaping. Now, however, North Carolina is suing eight e-cigarette makers, citing the fact that they helped fuel a vaping epidemic among young people, according to state Attorney General Josh Stein.

Teen Vaping Claim Against Eight E-Cigarette Makers

The eight companies named in the North Carolina lawsuit are:

  • Beard Vape
  • Direct eLiquid
  • Electric Lotus
  • Electric Tobacconist
  • Eonsmoke
  • Juice Man
  • Tinted Brew
  • VapeCo

The lawsuit claims that these e-cigarette makers are aggressively targeting kids and that they don’t require appropriate age checks when they sell their products. According to the lawsuit, the companies sell flavors like gummy bear and unicorn frappe, which would appeal to younger audiences. The Electric Tobacconist was one of the only companies to respond, issuing a statement saying they use an extensive age verification system and other checks to prevent their products from getting into the hands of underage youth.

Teenage Vaping & Tobacco Use Statistics

Following years of decline, there has been a 30% increase in high school tobacco use in North Carolina. The hope among lawmakers and public health officials is that lawsuits like the one just filed will reverse that trend.

According to a survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health in 2018, around 37% of 12th graders said they’d vaped in 2018, which was up from 28% the previous year. Dr. Richard Miech, who led the study, said that vaping is reversing previous declines in adolescent nicotine use. He said that the results of the NIH study show that vaping can lead to increased nicotine use and addiction rather than away from it.

Current Restrictions on Teens Purchasing E-Cigarette Products

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires electronic cigarettes to be regulated as tobacco products, meaning the sale of these products to minors is federally illegal. Many states have started expanding their e-cigarette laws. For example, Michigan became the first state to announce that it will limit the sale of vaping products. Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an emergency ban on all online and retail sales of nicotine vape products in any flavor other than tobacco.

New York implemented a statewide ban on most flavored nicotine vaping products, and many other states are considering similar moves.

Even though there are restrictions in place, and there have been for years, adolescents and teens can still get vape products. One of the primary ways is likely by having older friends or family members buy them. Some are calling to raise the federal age to buy vape products to 21 to put more age separation between teens and the people who can buy them.

Additionally, a University of Cincinnati research study also showed that perhaps age-related laws aren’t working. Adolescents who used e-cigarettes daily were more than five times more likely to buy e-cigarettes from a drug store than getting someone else to buy them, and more than 4.4 times more likely to get them from a vape shop. The recommendation to combat the issue is not only that governments raise the legal age to 21, but also that they stop allowing online and commercial sales.

Signs of Vaping and E-Cigarette Use in Teens

Whether teens are smoking Juuls or one of the other branded products, the following are some of the possible signs of vaping in teens:

  • Extreme thirst since vaping can cause dehydration and dry mouth
  • Sweet odors lingering from flavored products
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Irritation which can come from nicotine withdrawal
  • Nosebleeds
  • Persistent cough
  • Caffeine sensitivity

Along with the physical and behavioral signs of vaping in teens, parents should also look for paraphernalia such as vaping devices and cartridges. There is also the potential that if your teen vapes he or she could begin smoking traditional cigarettes because of nicotine addiction.

If you fear that your teen is using e-cigarettes or may have a nicotine addiction, Next Generation Village can help. Reach out to one of our understanding team members to learn how your teen can start on their path to recovery today.

Sources:

Fingas, Jon. “North Carolina sues eight e-cigarette makers over teen use.” Engadget, August 28, 2019. Accessed October 21, 2019.

NIH News in Health. “Vaping Rises Among Teens.” February 2019. Accessed October 21, 2019.

University of Cincinnati. “Where are teens getting their electronic cigarettes?” EurekAlert, March 18, 2019. Accessed October 21, 2019.

Ducharme, Jamie. “As the number of vaping-related deaths climbs, these states have implemented e-cigarette bans.” Time, October 11, 2019. Accessed October 21, 2019.

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