The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors cast a preliminary vote in favor of banning flavored tobacco in LA County and incorporated areas on Tuesday.
Along with the ban, an ordinance requires tobacco shops to obtain a county business license that initially costs $778 and must be renewed every two years for $142. This is added to the current $235 Tobacco Retail License fee shops pay annually.
Government officials around the U.S. are jumping on this initiative after Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, said JUUL marketing campaigns and flavors target youth and adolescents.
Wednesday morning, Chief Executive Kevin Burns of JUUL Labs, one of the largest e-cigarette distributors, stepped down and will be replaced by K.C. Crosthwaite, who served as chief growth officer of Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that out of 530 cases of lung related injury this year, two-thirds are from ages 18 to 34. Some confirmed lung-related illness include opacities on chest radiographs, negative respiratory panels and all other clinically-indicated respiratory infectious disease testing.
A Living Room Vape & Smoke Shop employee said he believes this ban can potentially affect sales because the store’s most popular e-cigarettes are flavored.
“Our most popular flavor is mint, and JUUL sells the most compared to the vaping mods,” said Glen, who declined to give his last name.“It’s easier to hide because it’s really small and looks like a USB drive.”
Other smoke shops that carry e-cigarettes in the area were briefed by their supervisors to decline to comment on the ban.
Daisy Dai, a researcher at the University of Nebraska, recently collaborated with USC on one of the largest studies of vaping trends in the United States.
Her findings revealed that vaping among those aged 25 and older diminished in recent years. However, trends among young adults and teens show that vaping is still popular among middle and high school students.
Dai warns that vaping “is not merely a fad” and poses many serious health risks.
“E-cigarette aerosol is not harmless as it contains varying levels of nicotine and a number of potentially toxic substances, she said.
Some USC students have decided to quit vaping because of recent reports of lung illnesses and deaths around the U.S.
Sophomore Jamiee Zhuge supports the ban of e-cigarettes but thinks that prohibition of flavored tobacco products might lead people to create their own flavored pods.
“We know the effect of cigarettes has been studied,” Zhuge said. “But for e-cigarettes we haven’t had the chance to study it long term so it’s unknown.”
Sophomore Jordan also supports the proposed ban because she has seen the toll e-cigarettes take on the lives of her friends.
“My friends that used to be Division 1 athletes are now struggling just to run a mile,” Jordan said.
The CDC recommends that vapers only buy products from licensed retailers, and to never “modify or add any substances to these products that are not intended byT the manufacturer.”
They also recommend current e-cigarette users to monitor themselves for symptoms similar to those identified in the current outbreak such as shortness of breath, nausea, chest pain, abdominal pain and fever. Those looking to quit smoking should seek out “evidence-based treatments, including counseling and FDA-approved medications.”