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Getting Kids Off The Vape: Blumenthal Says Trump 'Succumbing To Industry Pressure'

Frankie Graziano
Connecticut Public Radio
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) holds up a device children use to cover up their vaping habits -- a hoodie with tube to inhale e-cigarette products. Blumenthal wants President Donald Trump to ban vaping products so that kids won't use them.

Forty-seven people have died in recent months from vaping-related illnesses, and there’s rising concern around the country about addiction levels among young people.

President Donald Trump met with executives from the tobacco industry Friday, along with public health leaders, to talk about vaping. But one federal lawmaker from Connecticut doesn’t expect anything to come of it.

“Donald Trump is succumbing to industry pressure -- whether it’s the vaping shops, or the tobacco companies, or Juul, or other specific vaping companies -- the vaping industry has Donald Trump under its thumb,” said Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who added that about a third of America’s youth uses e-cigarettes.

President Trump said in September that he would ban flavored e-cigarettes. The Washington Post has since reported that he’s backed away from that.

Blumenthal said that nothing has come of Trump’s September promise and that he doesn’t expect any action from the White House after the Friday meeting.

Dr. Melanie Collins, a pediatric pulmonologist at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, talked about the dangers of vaping products.

“One Juul pod is equivalent to a pack of cigarettes,” she said.

Frankie Graziano
Dr. Melanie Collins, a pediatric pulmonologist, said that she and her colleagues at the Connecticut Children's Medical Center have seen children suffering from acute psychotic episodes and other symptoms related to nicotine exposure as a result of vaping.

Collins said she and her colleagues have seen kids come in with acute psychotic episodes related vaping, as well as other nicotine-exposure symptoms.

“The flavoring that is used in Juul -- we know now from the study in pediatrics -- entices children to breathe it in more rapidly, so their product is not safe,” Collins said.

Citing numbers from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Collins said the number of high school and middle school-age children using vaping devices has increased by 1,240% in the past six years.

“Sixty-six percent of these students believe that they are only vaping flavored liquid, when in reality 99% of the flavored liquids contained nicotine -- a highly addictive substance that can impair normal brain development, as well as result in long-term cardiovascular impairment and poor lung health,” Collins said.

To keep children away from vaping, Blumenthal is calling on Trump to urge the federal Food and Drug Administration to ban all flavored e-cigarettes. He also would like to see camouflaged e-cigarette products like vaping hoodies eliminated.