The D.C. Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety held a hearing Thursday to discuss three bills aiming to curb the widespread use of electronic cigarettes and nicotine addiction among teenagers.
During the hearing, members of the public told the Council members about their concerns, including the argument that these products are mainly targeting minors and African Americans.
“We are seeing kids more addicted, more rapidly, more intensely than we ever saw with cigarettes,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We have kids who can’t sit in a classroom for 45 minutes without getting a puff… We have kids who are taking these products to bed with them because they’re so addicted.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 1,600 deaths around the country last year were related to vaping. The first such death in the District was reported in October 2019.
In a press release in October, D.C. Health called on District residents to avoid using e-cigarettes and vaping products, warning that “cannabis or THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) vape-products that are obtained off the street may pose the greatest risk.”
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine announced last November that he filed a lawsuit against the leading e-cigarette producer Juul Labs for specifically targeting children and misleading its potential customers about the content of their products.
Over 30 percent of high school students in the U.S. are reportedly using tobacco products.