RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – Vaping is increasing amongst teenagers in the Rio Grande Valley, and across the country, new regulations are being announced by The White House to combat what some call a public health crisis.
A new ban on flavored E-cigarette products is aiming to decrease the number of teens vaping.
“The real question is, will the new policy and change of flavorings impact those rates?” asked Dr. Arturo Rodriguez, Brownsville Public Health Director.
That’s the question many are asking themselves.
The Trump Administration is banning fruit, candy, mint, and dessert flavors which seem to be the most appealing to teens. This new policy comes after a rise in vaping by young adults, including here in the Rio Grande Valley.
“Rates of smoking in Brownsville for many years have been below the national average, but we have seen the national average and uptick of people of all ages increasing their smoking. From your spouse, that you’re going to have higher cases of heart disease and lung cancer,” said Rodriguez.
The National Youth Tobacco Survey shows approximately 1.6 million teenagers are using e-cigarettes in 2019. This is a growing concern for school districts and local law enforcement who are trying to end this epidemic.
“These products, as you see, they look like pens or USBs. They’re hard to spot, but it’s what’s inside them that concerns us,” said Ricardo Perez Jr., Edinburg CISD Police Chief.
Texas Health and Human Services have linked severe lung illnesses in people who vape, leading to a change in the legal age of buying tobacco products.
“The new laws that we will be observing is that you cannot purchase cigarettes unless you show proof you are at least 21 years or older,” said Rodriguez.
As for the new ban in certain flavors, retails will still be allowed to sell menthol and tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes.
The Trump Administration is calling this a big step towards reducing the number of teens vaping. The Food and Drug Administration will begin enforcing this new fruit and mint flavor ban within the next 30 days.