The Boston City Council is worried about one potential health crisis impacting the youth of the city.
During this week’s regular city council meeting, councilors Matt O’Malley and Anissa Essaibi-George called for a hearing on potential regulations and restrictions on e-cigs and vaping.
“It is an unrecognized epidemic that is sweeping our schools,” said O’Malley.
O’Malley, a former smoker, knows firsthand how hard it is to quit smoking and with the help of vaping has become a widespread addiction among teenagers. He said 1 in 5 teenagers use e-cigs while only three percent of adults use them. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, middle school students using e-cigs increased 48 percent within the last year. They are often marketed as a way for adults to quit smoking but with flavors like mango and bubblegum often become appealing to teenagers.
“It’s more dangerous than many of our young adults realize,” said O’Malley. “Online sales has increased dramatically.”
“The numbers of young people who are using them is growing every year. We saw the percentage double from 2017 to 2018,” O’Malley added.
State lawmakers have proposed a ban on flavored products recently as well as a lofty tax.
“We need to take action,” O’Malley added.
Essaibi-George said these vaping tools are often used in school since they are easy to hide, don’t produce a smell and much smoke.
“They are very attractive for young people,” she said. “We need to make sure they are sold for their stated purpose which is to help adults quit smoking.”
O’Malley wants to make sure teens have resources if they want to quit smoking.
“Every young person should have someone to talk to if they want to quit nicotine,” he said.
The Boston Health and Human Services cabinet, the Boston Public Schools, healthcare providers, and members of the public are invited to attend the future hearing.