"> Fayette News / Thank goodness for Mississippi and Alabama?

Thank goodness for Mississippi and Alabama?

How many times have you heard this said when it comes to being behind the times? Well, you can’t say it about vaping. Both states have two bills introduced to regulate vaping. We have none.
What is vaping? The short answer is “ask your teen.” He or she will tell you all about e-cigarettes (e-cigs), which heat up a fluid containing nicotine. In short, vaping is defined as the inhaling of the smoke that is a direct result of heating up that liquid.
Unfortunately, much of what the teens think they know is incorrect. Many teens believe vaping is a healthy substitute for regular cigarettes. It’s not.
There are a few progressive local and state voices who recognize the crisis. Dr. Joseph Barrow, Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent, is one such person. Per Dr. Barrow: “To bring attention to what has been dubbed as a public health crisis, Fayette County Public Schools will host a forum on the dangers of vaping at the Whitewater High School auditorium on November 12 from 7-8:15 p.m. Guest speaker Dr. Jared Cavanaugh from the Georgia Poison Center will lead the discussion.”
Dr. Kathleen Toomey, head of the Georgia Department of Public Health, is another policy maker in the know. She recently issued a memo to Georgia Boards of Health (note: I am on the Fayette County BOH). Dr. Toomey indicated:
• The nicotine in e-cigs impair adolescent development while the use of e-cigs is a gateway to the use of regular cigarettes.
• There have already been 2 deaths here and 21 instances of vaping associated lung disease with another 15 under review.
• The average person stricken is a 33-year-old male.
The situation is dire. Vaping affects the brain, especially in teens, and those effects may be non-reversible. It’s certain that it has many other negative health consequences, some of which are already showing up.
Per the CDC, there have already been 1,479 lung disease cases nationwide due to vaping. And, the number is growing rapidly as the use of vaping spreads, especially among our youth. 
Therefore, the CDC is recommending that e-cigs not be used at all, even as a substitute for regular cigarettes. Further, the head of the FDA, Scott Gottlieb, has signified that there is a big problem with vaping and has drafted regulatory guidance (FDA-2019-D-0661). 
But, not surprisingly given the political situation in Washington for the last three years, no national legislation has been passed by our dysfunctional Congress, despite 14 bills being introduced (Billtrack50.com). This tragic lack of bi-partisan action is simply unacceptable and points to much larger problems with our Republic.
Which leaves us with the dire need for state regulation. A large number of states have proposed legislation, including Southern states like Alabama and Mississippi; Georgia is not among them but should clearly be rather than passing some of the politically-motivated legislation that has taken up our Legislature’s time and attention over the past few years. In this way, Georgia’s political situation mirrors Washington.
Thus far, state efforts by other states have been primarily in four areas:
• spreading knowledge about the harms of vaping, especially to younger people;
• prohibiting flavored e-cigs;
• raising the e-cig smoking age to more than 18 (note: you must be 21 to buy a beer); and
• increasing taxes in a major way to cut use and fund preventative measures.
What can you do to prevent this epidemic from spreading? 
Contact both your state and federal representatives. Don’t accept the sleezy politician’s typical excuse that the issue needs to be studied or that we need a committee. We already know vaping is killing our kids.
Ask specifically if they agree with each of these four methods for regulating vaping. If not, how exactly do they suggest we deal with this growing problem? And, what are they themselves doing about it right now? One thing is for certain, the usual political doubletalk will not suffice.

Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a large national healthcare firm, has worked extensively with hospitals across the nation regarding cost containment and insurance. He was also the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia.

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