Nobody is protecting school kids against e-cigarette manufacturers that are creating a new generation of nicotine addicts with fruit-flavored vape cartridges and devices that can easily be sneaked into class, US Sen. Chuck Schumer warned Sunday.
The New York Democrat said if the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t move to reign in the new, deadly products — that include flavors like Sour Smurf Sauce, V’Nilla Cookies & Milk, Golden Oreo and Whip’d Strawberry — addiction among children will spread like “wildfire.”
Schumer, the Senate minority leader, pointed to Jack Solomon, a ninth-grader from Scarsdale HS, at his Manhattan press conference Sunday.
Solomon, 15, admitted he’s heavily addicted to a nicotine device marketed by Juul, a company that sells vape “starter kits” in kid-friendly flavors like Fruit Medley for $49.99.
“I’ve been addicted to it from the beginning of eighth grade ’til now. I’ve tried to stop but my brain tells me that I need smoke to come out of my mouth. It’s hard and I’m so addicted to it,” he said.
Solomon said he and fellow teen vapers are so hooked, they sneak their devices into class for a puff.
“Teachers just don’t know what they are because they’re so small and they look like flash drives,” he said.
Schumer said a typical e-cig pod contains the amount of nicotine equal to an entire pack of conventional cigarettes, plus high amounts of formaldehyde.
“The craze among kids for e-cig flavors that resemble whipped cream, candy and cookies is not only a bad trend, it is a recipe for disaster that is fueling an outright addiction that appears to be getting worse, not better,” he warned.
Despite the dangers, the FDA decided last July to hold off on implementing an already finalized rule that would regulate the devices. Schumer said there is a current law on the books — the Tobacco Control Act — that should apply to e-cigarettes and make it illegal to market an unhealthy product dressed up as a fun trend.
Enforcement has been delayed, despite a letter to FDA Administrator Scott Gottlieb signed last month by a coalition that included the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Cancer Society.
“It is high time to ramp up the pressure on and by the FDA so quicker action to rid the marketplace of kid-friendly e-cig flavors is taken,” Schumer said. “New York kids are in a flavor trap and it’s becoming a real epidemic now.”
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