Health experts, lawmakers and community leaders recently gathered at the UNT Health Science Center to discuss how to prevent vaping-related deaths and limit teen access to e-cigarettes — a public discussion that came two months after Texas reported its first vaping-illness death.
Roundtable participants included Mayor Betsy Price; U.S. Sen. John Cornyn; Dr. Tracey Barnett, associate professor and associate dean for academic affairs in the UNTHSC School of Public Health; Dr. Karen Schultz, director of pulmonary services at Cook Children’s Medical Center; Kay Kamm, American Cancer Society; Cami Thompson, executive director of the American Heart Association in Tarrant County; Vinny Taneja, Tarrant County director of public health; and Anna Carey, a 16-year-old former e-cigarette user.
“This is a full-blown public health crisis,” Cornyn said. “We need to recognize it as such. We are not talking about informed choices made by consenting adults. We are talking about a campaign to addict children to nicotine.”
Cornyn said he wants to block online sales of e-cigarettes to teens and children. That is central to bipartisan legislation introduced by Cornyn and several Democratic lawmakers.
“To be clear, this is a bipartisan bill that focuses on keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of kids,” Price said. “This legislation doesn’t impact the decisions of adults.”
The bill would require e-cigarette online retailers to verify the age of customers for purchases, require an adult with ID to be present for delivery, label shipping packages to show they contain tobacco products and comply with all state and local tobacco tax requirements.
Cornyn cited a recent survey published in the American Journal of Health Promotion that found 32 percent of underage users of e-cigarette purchased products online, making online sales the single largest source of purchases for underage users.
“This is an important panel and opportunity for education around this very important topic of e-cigarettes and the impact they are having on our health in the U.S.,” Dr. Michael Williams, president of UNTHSC, said. “The health science center is committed to this problem.”
Preventing more vaping-related deaths is going to take communitywide efforts that includes working with schools to educate children about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes and well as more government oversight of vaping products, said several roundtable participants.
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View the agenda »
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