Juul Epidemic Continues to Take Lives

Jordyn Konefsky, Staff Writer

Since the Juul epidemic has begun, numerous deaths and related illnesses have occurred. Many states, specifically New York, are now considering completely prohibiting e-cigarettes for anyone under the age of twenty-one. 

This month, former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg announced a $160 million campaign created to “ban flavored e-cigarettes in at least 20 cities and states.” As part of the campaign, New York has created public service advertisements on television that directly call out kids who are sharing information on their cell phones discussing the various flavors and then they proceed to go outside to actually try out those flavors. The direct purpose of this ad is to educate adults, such as parents and teachers, as to what they should be looking out for.

Separate from Michael Bloomberg’s proposition, the governor of New York and other governors are pushing to ban “kid friendly” flavors and ones that would attract teenage customers such as mango, mint, bubble gum, etc. leaving only tobacco and menthol flavors. It is assumed that the remaining flavors would most likely only appeal to adults.

Statistics show from the state health department that almost 40% of high school seniors and 27.4% percent of New York high schoolers partake in the use of e-cigarettes. This number demonstrates the significant growth since 2014 when there was only a 10.5% use of e-cigarettes by high schoolers in New York. 

Owners of vape shops are becoming concerned that they will be forced to go out of business, however, due to this proposal. Mike Kruger, an owner of two vape shops in Albany, made the argument that “smokers looking to quit will have fewer options under the ban.” Where this may be true, people who have had no previous record of smoking before are now getting access to these devices leading to new addictions. He then adds, “As for breathing illnesses, I believe they are the result of people buying black market vape liquid, not the items I sell.” With the ban, others in New York are concerned that more black market nicotine products will be utilized which will further contribute to the illnesses. Several vape store owners are even going as far as sewing the state. For the moment they have won preserving their right to continue selling the banned products due to the New York appellate court issued a temporary restraining order. The hearing to discuss the “preliminary injunction of the ban will be heard by a judge in New York Supreme Court on October 18.” The ban is not in effect, pending the final resolution.

Some companies, such as Juul Labs Inc, “the company with the biggest footprint industry,” that sell vapes are cooperating with the final state and federal regulation over the flavor debate. 

Given that a state as significant as New York has taken the initiative to help protect the health and well-being of its young population, it would stand to reason that many other states will follow suit.