Salt Lake County Board of Health calls on state legislature for action on vaping

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News)- Thursday the Salt Lake County Board of Health met to discuss lung disease caused by vaping. The state’s administrative rule implemented Wednesday was at the center of the meeting. 

A law prevents any government agency other than the state legislature from enacting an ordinance or regulation that impacts the use, sale or distribution of e-cigarettes.

The board unanimously approved ten recommendations for the legislature to implement.

  1. Create an excise tax for e-cigarette devices and products and use the tax revenue to fund prevention and efforts;
  2. Ban all flavored e-cigarette products or, in the alternative, require that flavored e-cigarette products be sold only in currently permitted tobacco specialty retail businesses;
  3. Increase the minimum age to purchase e-cigarette products to 21;
  4. Clarify that a general tobacco retailer that is not allowed to sell e-cigarette devices and products must not appear to be a retail tobacco specialty business on the exterior by the name and advertising present, or in the interior with the focus being on tobacco products and a preponderance of tobacco paraphernalia and the promotional materials;
  5. Remove the ‘grandfather’ language that allows certain retail tobacco specialty businesses to be located within the proximity requirements identified in the state statute;
  6. Require that all tobacco retailers provide the customer with an itemized receipt for each sale of a tobacco product, an e-cigarette product, or a nicotine product;
  7. Require that all tobacco retailers maintain an itemized transaction log that separately identifies, for each sale of a tobacco product, an e-cigarette product, or a nicotine product;
  8. Prohibit the sale of any e-cigarette device or product for an amount less than the cost of the product to the manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer;
  9. Prohibit the internet sale of e-cigarette devices and products;
  10. Give schools explicit authority to confiscate and destroy any e-cigarette device and/or product found on school property regardless of who owns the device or product.

The state of Utah is already taking steps to toughen the law temporarily requiring all e-cigarette retailers and vape retailers to display a sign in their store. 

Also, prohibiting general stores from selling flavored e-cigarette products. Designating age-restricted specialty stores as the only legal retailer of flavored vape products, the goal is to keep flavored products out of the hands of minors.

“The intent behind this is to even more difficult for underage individuals to purchase,” Gary Edwards, executive director of Salt Lake County Health Department said. 

This is because researchers found a correlation between folks who use flavored products to those who use THC cartridges. 

Out of the 71 reported vape related lung illnesses in Utah, “94 percent have self reported vaping THC,” Keegan McCaffrey, epidemiologist, Utah Department of Health. 

Doctors attribute the lung illness to tainted THC cartridges, and now state and local health officials are scrambling to warn people of the dangers.

“We are on the front lines with this we see what the devastating effects are,” board member Scott Brown said. 

As of now, doctors haven’t been found a treatment for thins particular lung illness. 

The 120-day ruling is in effect and businesses have until October 21 to comply.

Editor’s note: Following this report, the Utah Department of Health announced give retailers until Oct. 21 to comply.

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