Councilman Dennis Dunne and Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney have announced the Hempstead Town Board will call a public hearing for September 20th to consider legislation that would require businesses that sell electronic aerosol delivery systems, commonly known as vapes and e-cigarettes, to post large signage that would alert consumers that these products contain dangerous chemicals.
This new legislation, which would create subsection D of Chapter 121-4 of the Town Code, is part of a multi-prong approach, led by Councilman Dunne, to address concerns about e-cigarette/vape use in teens.
“I began a task force earlier this year to address the issue of vaping and one of the concerns I have heard consistently, is that the teens who are using vape products have no idea that they contain nicotine, which is addictive,” said Dunne. “This legislation is designed to correct this misapprehension that vaping is not hazardous to your health.”
E-cigarettes, more commonly referred to as vapes, are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid — usually containing nicotine mixed with the chemicals propylene glycol and glycerin, and often flavorings ranging from bubble gum to watermelon — into a vapor that users can inhale. They deliver nicotine, a highly addictive drug, to the body without producing any smoke.
Dunne’s task force consists of various entities, including school officials and counseling facilities. Many of the discussions have focused on ways in which to address the problem of young people using vape products and that many of those using the product are unaware of the dangers partially as a result of the flavors which are more appealing to them.
“I am proud to have worked with Councilman Dunne on many of these initiatives to address this frightening new trend,” said King Sweeney. “Public awareness has significantly decreased the use of traditional cigarettes and I am confident that this new legislation will help achieve that same goal with e-cigarettes.”
Between 2011 and 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General found e-cigarette use among high school students increased by 900 percent, with more teens now using e-cigarettes than cigarettes. E-cigarette or “Vape” companies intentionally market products that are attractive to young people by having fun flavors and making them appear like a flash drive or pen that can easily be hidden from parents and school officials. Many students do not even realize that the products they are using contain nicotine. The products can even be easily purchased by kids online. These products are also being used to smoke illegal substances such as marijuana.
In December 2016, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a groundbreaking report “E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults” that made a number of important conclusions and findings about the use of e-cigarettes among youth. These included that the flavors in e-cigarettes are one of the main reasons youth use them, e-cigarette aerosol is not safe and that e-cigarette use is strongly associated with the use of other tobacco products among youth and young adults. In initial lab tests conducted in 2009, the FDA found detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals, including an ingredient used in anti-freeze, in two leading brands of e-cigarettes and 18 different cartridges. Early studies have also revealed that when propylene glycol or glycerin are heated and vaporized, they can degrade into formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Both of these chemicals are considered carcinogens. The Surgeon General concluded that e-cigarette use among youth is now a significant public health concern and steps must be taken by parents, educators and especially policymakers to discourage use of e-cigarettes.
The legislation that Dunne is proposing would mandate that retail stores that carry the electronic aerosol delivery systems have a conspicuous sign that would say, “’WARNING: VAPE PRODUCTS CONTAIN NICOTINE. NICOTINE IS AN ADDICTIVE CHEMICAL’ – U.S. Food and Drug Administration ‘VAPING CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH’- U.S. Surgeon General. Posted by order of the Town of Hempstead Board.”
“My sincerest hope is that once these kids see, in black and white, that these products are dangerous to their health, they will think twice before purchasing them,” concluded Dunne.