Steps must be taken to stem surge in vaping among youths

Just because something is safer, doesn’t mean that it’s safe. This is no better illustrated than when comparing the smoking of traditional cigarettes to the “vaping” while using electronic cigarettes, especially among this nation’s youth.

Most of us — even those among us who smoke — are undoubtedly familiar with the health risks associated with smoking, most notably the much-higher risk for developing cancer.

And while, yes, most health experts agree that vaping (the inhaling of a vaporized nicotine solution) is a lower-risk alternative to traditional smoking, that doesn’t mean it’s good for you or for youths.

According to health experts, nicotine is harmful to developing brains. And some researchers believe that many vaping teens will eventually become smoking adults.

Perhaps because many teens and young adults mistakenly believe that vaping isn’t dangerous or maybe just because it’s a newer, “cooler” version of smoking, the level of vaping by high school students is quite alarming (approximately 20 percent nationwide — 1 out of every 5 high school students — admit to using e-cigarettes despite the fact that it is illegal to buy vaping products until age 18, according to the latest survey taken last year).

As a result, we fully support a plan by the federal government to restrict the sales of most flavored products in convenience stores and online.

Under the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed guidelines, e-cigarette makers would limit the sales of most flavored products to stores that verify the age of customers entering the store or include a separate, age-restricted area for vaping products. Companies would also be expected to use third-party identity-verification technology for online sales.

Those who do not comply would risk having their products removed from the market.

Is it a perfect solution? No. Could the restrictions go farther? Absolutely. But is this a step in the right direction? We feel that it is and that it’s certainly better than doing nothing at all.

Teen vaping is a problem headed toward epidemic status if it’s not already earned it. If we don’t act to solve the problem now, our children’s health and well-being could very well go up in smoke.