LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A surge in underage vaping and an outbreak of serious lung illnesses has led to action in the nation's capital.
At least six people have died, and nearly 500 have gotten sick.
Now, President Donald Trump’s Administration is moving to ban flavored vaping products.
“We can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected,” the Associated Press quoted Trump as saying Wednesday.
The FDA said the rule change would be rolled out within weeks, with a 30-day compliance period for retailers to dump everything other than tobacco-flavored products.
“The president cited the illnesses in recent weeks, when the illnesses are actually caused by black market THC products,” Troy LeBlanc, president of Louisville’s Derb E Cigs, said.
LeBlanc said the decision to make the flavored products illegal may backfire, making them more dangerous for those who will still seek them out.
“The solution is to ban them,” LeBlanc said. “Thus, creating the largest black market since prohibition.”
LeBlanc said that’s why he’s heading to the nation’s capital within the next week to educate policymakers about the products he sells.
Others in Louisville said they’ve learned a lot themselves about just how big vaping is among teens right now.
“The advent of the flavored vapes, I think that’s increased kids’ curiosity,” Mark Neese, the clinical director at True North Counseling, said. “I’m hearing a lot from the teenagers I’m working with that it’s just everywhere in the schools.”
Neese said he recently conducted a four-week program with half a dozen teens and their parents to teach them about the consequences of vaping, but also learn why they’re doing it.
“I think we had seen a decrease in kids smoking, but I think we’re going to go two steps back and kids are going to be smoking more now than even before we saw that decrease,” Neese said.
Neese is concerned that vaping will lead teens to combustible cigarettes, while those in the e-cig industry said they fear, without their products, people won’t be able to quit smoking.