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Vaping and e-cigarettes

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 Washington's emergency rule on vapor products 

 The Washington State Board of Health’s emergency rule now bans the sale of vapor products with vitamin E acetate. The board expanded the rule Nov. 8, 2019, which already included a ban on flavored vapor products.

A risky habit.  

The dark clouds around vaping are growing.

When e-cigarette products first became popular, we did not have much information about health risks.

But mounting evidence suggest vaping is bad for your health.

An epidemic among our youth.

The U.S. Surgeon General declared vaping an epidemic among our youth in 2018.

We know in Pierce County fewer youth are smoking cigarettes but more are vaping.

In 2018, 8 percent of our 12th graders said they had smoked a cigarettes in the past 30 days. But nearly 30 percent said they had vaped—way up from 18 percent in 2016.

In fact, vaping was up significantly among all age groups in the 2018 Pierce County Healthy Youth Survey:

  • Nearly 1 in 4 10th graders (23%) reported using vapor products in the last 30 days.
  • 56% of 10th graders who vape report said they do so with nicotine.
  • 22% of 10th graders who vape reported using THC (Marijuana) in their vapor products.

Serious health risks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notified healthcare providers about of a cluster of serious pulmonary illnesses. In most cases, the patients are adolescents and young adults. CDC has received reports of 2,290 cases of severe lung illness, and 47 people have died.

It’s not yet clear a common cause exists, but the symptoms were similar in many cases. All were associated with e-cigarette use, or vaping. In recent tests, CDC examined lung fluid from 29 patients with vaping-related lung injury. Researchers found vitamin E acetate in all 29 samples. Vitamin E acetate is a thickening agent used in THC-containing vaping products. Vitamin E acetate is usually harmless when ingested. But, according to CDC, research suggests it may interfere with normal lung function when inhaled. CDC recommends you consider refraining from e-cigarette, or vaping, product use, particularly those with THC.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine—a highly addictive substance that negatively affects brain development in youth.

On top of that, vapes contain dangerous chemicals like:

  • Formaldehyde.
  • Benzene.
  • Nickel.
  • Lead.
  • Propylene glycol.

We also know of many cases in which vape devices exploded, injuring or even killing people.

Questionable marketing.

You might have heard that vaping is a good way to quit smoking cigarettes. Some vaping manufactures even advertise this claim.

But other smoking cessation methods have proven track records. And they don’t post the health risks associated with vaping.

Companies market e-cigarettes to youth. The e-liquid comes in many colors. Often, the liquid is flavored like candy—bubble-gum, gummy bears or cotton candy.

No amount is safe.

Vaping is still a nicotine delivery device, and no amount is safe.

Your healthiest choice is to stay away from vaping. We will all enjoy cleaner air, and no one will breathe in potentially harmful secondhand vapor.

In January 2020, Washington’s Vapor and Tobacco 21 law takes effect. It raise the age to buy tobacco, nicotine, and vapor products to 21 to protect youth from the health risks.

A history of leadership

Pierce County continues to be a leader in protecting the health of our youth from vaping.

In 2011, our Board of Health was one of the first to pass regulations on e-cigarettes and vapor products. These established a minimum age for purchase and set rules on where these products could be sold.  

The Board continued its work in 2016. These new regulations required vape businesses to have permits, inspections, ventilation and other measures that protect people’s health.

Our early efforts played a role in the state’s Vaping In Public Places law. The Health Department continues to work with local and state partners to address the vaping epidemic. 


You can email Jessica Alvestad or call her at (253) 377-4242.