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Juul in denial: Boston councilors seek crackdown on e-cigarettes aimed at kids

City Councilors Matt O'Malley (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury) and Annissa Essaibi-George (at large) will lead an effort to curb what they said was a growing epidemic of teens using nicotine inhalers known as e-cigarettes.

"It's a public health crisis in Boston and we need to take action," O'Malley said.

O'Malley and Essaibi-George said vaping has exploded among teens, based not just on the flavors but on everything from "cute" packaging by marketing-savvy manufacturers to the fact that their "smoke" is virtually odorless - to the point where some kids sneak them into their classes for some quick puffs.

And it's time to cut the marketing nonsense that e-cigarettes are really a tool for adults to help quit smoking, when the evidence suggests teens are the biggest, and definitely the fastest growing, market, or that they are harmless, when the evidence suggests they carry their own health risks, O'Malley said.

"Only a product marketed to youth needs flavors like mango fruit or cream flavored nicotine," O'Malley said.

O'Malley and Essaibi-George said they want a hearing to meet with public-health experts to figure out the best strategies to keep e-cigarettes away from teens. He noted that other communities are looking at banning fruit-flavored vaping cartridges, but cautioned that online sales are booming, which means Boston might have to take other steps, such as training adults to help get teens to either stay away from e-cigarettes or quit them if they start.

The council approved their request to schedule a formal hearing at which public-health experts and the public can testify.

UPDATE: Juul replies:

We have taken aggressive action to combat underage use of our products, while preserving the opportunity for adult smokers to switch from combustible cigarettes, which contribute to over 9,000 deaths per year in Massachusetts.

Flavors are a complex issue. We believe flavors play a critical role in switching adult smokers from cigarettes because flavors can help smokers disassociate from the taste of tobacco and the odor of cigarettes; we see the results in our own behavioral research. While we do not and will not sell flavors which are clearly targeted to youth, we also understand that flavors that drive adults from cigarettes have the potential to appeal to youth. To strike the right balance between preserving accessibility for adult smokers, while restricting access for youth, we stopped the distribution of non-tobacco/non-menthol-based flavored pods to traditional retail. Currently, we sell these flavored products only through our ecommerce platform (JUUL.com), where we utilize industry-leading third-party age-verification and restrict bulk purchases.

We have led, and will continue to lead, the category and support category-wide actions to reverse the trend in youth use, while preserving this unprecedented opportunity for adult smokers, and we will continue to work with Massachusetts state and local policymakers in a transparent and collaborative fashion to achieve that goal.

PDF icon O'Malley's request for a hearing76.01 KB


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"Only a product marketed to youth needs flavors like mango fruit or cream flavored nicotine," O'Malley said.

At what age does one decide that fruit flavors are no longer appetizing to them? I know a handful of non-"youths" that have used mango or other "youthful" flavors as a means to quit more harmful types of nicotine usage.

Voting closed 35

Meanwhile down on mass ave there is a real public health crisis going on

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In fact, it has many medicinal uses. Unlike caffeine, it has the added benefit of not only belng a mild stimulant, but also can calm people down.
It has industrial uses, but the amount ingested by vaping, smoking, chewing, Swedish snus, etc., is harmless. At worse, a nicotine O.D. Simply makes you vomit. You are fine afterwards. In fact, it was commonly used in the past to induce vomiting.

I see no legit reason to ban or demonize recreational nicotine use. We are becoming too puritanical and too much of a nanny state.

BTW:banning vapes, making them difficult to get, simply encourages greater forms of nicotine ingestion through smoking cigs, cigars, dip, snus.

Voting closed 25

It took me sheer seconds with Google to find this, from Johns Hopkins:

Nicotine is also a toxic substance. It raises your blood pressure and spikes your adrenaline, which increases your heart rate and the likelihood of having a heart attack.

There are many unknowns about vaping, including what chemicals make up the vapor and how they affect physical health over the long term. “People need to understand that e-cigarettes are potentially dangerous to your health,” says Blaha. “You’re exposing yourself to all kinds of chemicals that we don’t yet understand and that are probably not safe.”

Oh, and let's see what the FDA announced just last month:

We have reports indicating that some people who use e-cigarettes, especially youth and young adults, are experiencing seizures following their use. Seizures or convulsions are known potential side effects of nicotine poisoning and have been reported in scientific literature in relation to intentional or accidental swallowing of nicotine-containing e-liquids. However, an FDA review of voluntary adverse event reports for these products submitted to the agency and to poison control centers has identified a total of 35 reported cases of seizures following use of e-cigarettes between 2010 and early 2019. While 35 cases may not seem like much compared to the total number of people using e-cigarettes, we are nonetheless concerned by these reported cases. We also recognize that not all of the cases may be reported. We believe these 35 cases warrant scientific investigation into whether there is in fact a connection.

So maybe not as bad for you as cigarettes, but not necessarily good for you, either.

Voting closed 38

Yes, like caffeine. Many things, even organic products, are 'toxic' when ingested in very large amounts. Again:nicotine OD will cause vomiting. Nicotine is not and the cause of cancer in smokers.

'Advocates' are demonizing nicotine. It shouldn't be demonized.

Voting closed 19

NICOTINE does not cause CANCER - CANCER being the SECOND most serious cause of death linked to cigarettes.

NICOTINE CAUSES HEART DISEASE - heart disease being BY FAR THE MOST FREGUENT cause of death attributable to smoking.

Keep it up honey - someday you too will be one of those scientifically ignorant GOP FDA heads.

Voting closed 9


And MANY things people eat, ingest, daily can cause serious health problems. This includes things most think are harmless.

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Which school did you study public health at?

I have an ScD in environmental epidemiology and my bs detection devices are measuring off scale here.

You don't even understand the words you use here.

Voting closed 9

It raises your blood pressure and spikes your adrenaline

So do posts about bike lanes and President Donald Trump.... judging by the intensity and content of the responses.

As with nicotine... I kinda figured that was the desired effect. I mean, no one has ever asked you to stop posting about President Trump for health's sake, have they?

I mean, I have never seen anyone enjoy a Juul then immediately go into a F-bomb diatribe. I have seen posts here do that. THAT is an adrenaline spike.

Voting closed 10

Out of millions who vape nicotine?

You want to ban something, ban high fruitcose corn syrup; it's helping to cause a severe epidemic of obesity a long with the most commonly prescribed drugs and that an estimated 50% of Americans regularly take. At least nicotine helps decrease appitite and keep people's weight down.

Voting closed 19

I don’t know why people are unable to process facts and do simple internet research.

SwirlyGrrl cites some interesting research from UCF which indicates e-cigarettes can multiply your risk of heart disease by a factor of 4.

Cranky also cites a paper which conclusively demonstrates the negative health effects of e-cigarettes.

The comments and citations may be found here:

Voting closed 18

“O'Malley and Essaibi-George said they want a hearing to meet with public-health experts to figure out the best strategies to keep e-cigarettes away from teens.“

I have an idea, but it’s a WILD one, so bear with me: Parenting. Remember that stuff from back in the day?

Voting closed 25

You probably would have posted the same thing about anti-smoking efforts.

And yet, government played a key role in reducing the numbers of smokers. Amazing but true.

Voting closed 28

Relax... it's all good... kids aren't using Juul...

Voting closed 21

Its got batteries and wires ... looks sinister!

Voting closed 6

Nicotine causes heart disease - look it up.

Heart disease kills far more people than cancer - look it up!

(NOT aimed at Lunchbox)

Voting closed 8

I've added their answer at the bottom of the original post.

Voting closed 11

Everyone don your best set of pearls and get ready to clutch 'em! I've known plenty of adults who like the fruity flavored bullshit. I've also known quite a few who have transitioned from smoking and eventually weened themselves off of vaping.

Voting closed 16

No one's trying to stop those who want to quit smoking from vaping. They're trying to stop kids who do not smoke from vaping, which -- correct me if I'm wrong -- still results in nicotine addiction.

Voting closed 23

people will consider adult nicotine addicts. Most people would like to see restrictions because they don't like the look, smell and people who vape. Addiction is seen as moral failing of the addicted. There was never any serious effort to help people quite smoking, only increase in taxes so the government could take their piece of the pie. Same will happen with Vapes.
Vapes don't necessarily contain nicotine, but I gather that's what kids are smoking. I'm all for reducing the amount of kids who start. Nicotine is a terrible addiction. It should be treated as a public health issue not an opportunity to generate revenue.

Voting closed 10

I don't see how ecigs being used to help people quit is nonsense. In my experience they've been helpful. That's obviously anecdotal evidence, but it makes me believe they can help people quit. Something that we've been pushing for for decades.

That's not to dispute anything else in this post, but I think we can fight against teens vaping like crazy (which is rediculous) while still being honest. When you call it nonsense it sounds like you're looking for any reason to bash them vs. truthful reasons to do so.

Voting closed 8

Banning local sales is good, but regulation really needs to happen at the national level, through Congress or the FDA. It probably helps having a President who doesn't smoke, as opposed to a President who smokes.

Voting closed 3