Responding to Governor Charlie Baker's announcement of a four-month ban on the sale of vaping products, Dr. Jason Reynolds from Wareham Pediatrics called into the Rock and Fox Show this morning to talk about what he's seeing with the teen vaping epidemic.

We asked Dr. Reynolds what makes vaping any different from other harmful products like alcohol or cigarettes?

Dr. Reynolds gave us four differences:

  1. There has been a full-scale effort to educate teens and adults about the dangers of things like alcohol and cigarettes. We know full well the harm that cigarette smoke can cause. However, vaping was first used as a risk reduction technique for adult smokers, and has been marketed as a safe alternative to tobacco. Reynolds says we need to re-educate people because vaping is not safe.
  2. Made to look like flash drives or pens, the devices are easy to conceal from parents. They are marketed with flavors like bubble gum or fruit flavors aimed at attracting teens.  Unlike cigarette smoke, vaping smoke can easily go undetected by parents.
  3. While there is a lot of data that suggests that adults are using vaping as a means to quit smoking. However, the data shows that adolescents tend to move from vaping to cigarettes or other drug use at alarming rates.
  4. Many kids are readily using one JUUL pod a day, which translates into the equivalent level of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

"I think the biggest thing with this four-month pause is this whole new epidemic of the vaping associated deaths that are being reported at increased rates over the last six weeks," Dr. Reynolds said. "The interesting piece to this is that the deaths are not only in the adolescent population. Vapers in their early 30s are also dying. The ban is not just to curb adolescent use. It is to figure out why people are dying from vaping. There are reports that black market pods and fluids are causing the deaths and illnesses, but that's not entirely true because there are people who are getting these vaping-related lung illnesses using JUUL and other untampered products."

What does Dr. Reynolds hope to gain from the four-month pause?

"I'm hoping what ends up happening during these four months is that there's a lot of deliberation about how these products can be sold and what types of stores they can be sold in," he said. "Maybe there's some regulation about packaging and warning labels so that adult vapors know that vaping is not a safe activity. Maybe we should ban retail store sales, and move vaping products into smoke shops. There are a lot of different things we can do so that adults still have access, but that teens don't."

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