Media Contact: Erica Krutsch
September 23, 2019 – Chicago, IL – Today, Respiratory Health Association’s (RHA) President and CEO Joel Africk called for a flavored tobacco ban and e-cigarette product recall at the Illinois House of Representatives Mental Health Committee hearing on the Vaping Crisis. Africk called for a ban on flavored tobacco products of all types, including e-cigarettes, and the removal of all vaping products from store shelves until it can be determined why eight people have died and hundreds more have been sickened by these products.
At the hearing, Africk gave the following remarks:
This crisis is growing and it’s growing fast. Action is needed now. The federal government is dragging its feet on taking action so we need the State of Illinois to act now to protect against further illness and death.
There is a lack of safety data on either the long-term or short-term health effects of inhaling chemicals previously untested for human consumption. There are known carcinogens contained in the supposedly “harmless” water vapor from e-cigarettes. There is an epidemic of e-cigarette use among our children, which means we will face yet another generation of nicotine addicts—all at a time that cigarette smoking by children was in sharp decline.
The vaping industry, which is aligned and partly owned by Big Tobacco, has failed to take any decisive and immediate voluntary efforts in the vaping industry to protect the public. Until this crisis, the industry strongly opposed FDA efforts to test the safety of its products pre-market. And after this crisis arose, at most, there has been a series of measured actions intended to cut off a broader regulatory response. We should not expect anything more from an industry that has deceptively marketed its harmful products.
The only solution given an industry like this is for the government to take decisive action. First and foremost these products must be pulled from the shelves until we know what’s killing people and making them sick. Then, to prevent further crises, we need a clear set of comprehensive regulations to protect children, adult users of vaping products and the public. Without such action, this industry will never police itself, and we’ll undoubtedly see the number of deaths and illnesses continue to rise.
Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in Illinois since 1906. A policy leader, our organization remains committed to advancing innovative and meaningful tobacco control policies. We have been one of the state’s leading advocates for federal oversight of tobacco and vaping products, Tobacco 21 and Other Tobacco Product policies. For more information, visit resphealth.org.