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Walden: More must be done to combat youth vaping epidemic

Rep. Greg Walden
KTVZ file
Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., shared concerns about e-cigarette usage at a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing on Wednesday entitled, “Vaping in America: E-Cigarette Manufacturers' Impact on Public Health.”

Walden started the hearing off by emphasizing the major health concerns surrounding the use of electronic cigarettes, lung illnesses associated with vaping, and the youth vaping epidemic. It is of particular concern for Oregon, one of the 27 states where there was a confirmed death associated with use of an e-cigarette or vaping product.

“The most recent data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey is alarming,” said Walden. “We all share this concern. 27.5 percent of youth reported using e-cigarettes in 2019, compared with 20.8 percent in 2018. This is a big jump from 11.3 percent just three years ago.”

Walden applauded the Trump Administration, states, and manufacturers for looking into solutions to curb youth access to e-cigarettes.

“I applaud the Trump Administration’s pursuit of a solution to address our country’s youth vaping epidemic.  For example, in December, President Trump signed legislation to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21,” said Walden.

In January, the Food and Drug Administration also issued guidance prioritizing enforcement against unauthorized e-cigarette cartridge flavors that appeal to kids, like fruit and mint. Walden raised concerns about the counterfeit and black-market products that are likely to enter the market after the new FDA guidance goes into effect.

“While these are promising steps, we remain concerned about the counterfeit and black-market products that current e-cigarette users, including our youth, may increasingly turn to when products they currently use may no longer be available in the legitimate marketplace,” said Walden. “I am also concerned about potential shifts in youth usage to other non-cartridge-based e-cigarettes, and am interested in hearing from the companies today for their thoughts on how we can prevent this from occurring.”

Walden concluded by urging Congress to continue to press for answers about the health impacts of approved and unapproved vaping products alike.

In September, Walden shared his concerns about lung illnesses tied to e-cigarettes and the growing number of healthy young people who are falling ill after using a vape.

Watch Walden’s full remarks from the hearing here.

Article Topic Follows: Health
representative greg walden

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