CLEVELAND-- An Ohio lawmaker is proposing a state-wide ban on flavored vaping products, as the number of vaping-related illnesses continues to rise. Many in the vaping industry claim the move will not save lives, but may create more health problems instead.
Flavored e-cigarettes are increasingly coming under fire in Ohio. Tuesday, Republican State Rep. Tom Patton, of Strongsville, introduced two bills designed to place restrictions on vaping products statewide.
House Bill 346 is a proposal to "prohibit the sale of flavored electronic smoking devices and flavored vapor products" in Ohio, products that many feel are attractive to teenagers.
"This industry was built by adults, for adults to stop an adult problem," said James Jarvis, President of Ohio Vapor Trade Association, based in Columbus.
He said flavored e-cigarettes were designed to help adult smokers quit the habit and believes kids who vape, are not attracted to the flavor, but the effect.
"We card, we try to make sure that we are keeping the youth out and we're gonna do what we gotta do to make sure they stay out. But we need flavors on the market for our adult customers," Jarvis said.
"We get new information every month about how dangerous these products are, the inflammation of the lungs, the cancer risk," said Corey Kendrick with the Summit County Health Department.
The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reports 530 cases of vaping related lung illness in the United States, including seven deaths.
On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Health reports 20 cases in the state, in people from 16 to 59 years old, with a median age range of 21. Twenty-one more illnesses are under investigation.
"That's stuff on the black market on the street, that is not the same product that we're selling in our store," Jarvis said.
House Bill 347 would put restrictions on retailers, prohibiting products from being openly displayed and banning anyone under 21 from entering a vaping establishment.
"If taking it behind the counter to where folks can't get into it, and making the establishments 21 and over, I'm OK with that. Our goal is to get people off of combustible cigarettes," Jarvis said.
Jarvis said only 15 percent of adults vape tobacco flavor, and he fears without the option of flavored e-cigarettes, they may return to smoking regular cigarettes.
One of Rep. Patton’s proposals would also establish a committee to study the health risks associated with vaping products.