SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- (ABC4 News) – State lawmakers are taking aim at vaping, hoping to get youth to stop using the products.
Efforts have fallen short in the past, but now there is a new sense of momentum given the current crisis.
To date, eight deaths and hundreds of illnesses have been linked to vaping across the country.
The Utah Department of Health reports 47 cases of severe lung disease related to vaping nicotine, THC or both.
“It’s been frustrating that this issue has been kicked down the road for so long because now we’ve reached a real public health crisis,” said Representative Jennifer Dailey-Provost.
Dailey-Provost is a member of a vaping workgroup looking for answers.
She plans to run a bill to restrict where flavored e-cigarette products can be sold.
“If we were able to move forward on a complete ban on flavors I would support that as well, but I’m pragmatic, and I understand there are a lot of interests at play. And, if we can’t get an outright ban on flavors then we, at a minimum, need to make sure that we are protecting kids,” Dailey-Provost said.
Representative Susan Pulsipher is also part of that workgroup.
She plans to tackle the issue at the school level.
A bill she’s working on would outline clear guidelines for administrators or teachers who catch students vaping.
“That way an administrator, or teacher could take that device away and test it to see if it has other harmful drugs in it, and then at some point dispose of it,” said Pulsipher, R- South Jordan.
Her bill would also add prevention education to school curriculum.
A bipartisan effort with a new sense of urgency.
“I think some of the events of the last few months have helped to indicate to parents and young people that vaping and e-cigarettes pose a much greater danger than they had anticipated,” said Pulsipher.
Representative Paul Ray is working on a bill to ban e-cigarette flavors all together.
And, Senator Allen Christensen plans to run a bill to significantly increase taxes on vaping products.