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The U.S. Congress is considering new legislation that would ban flavored e-cigarettes, which are believed to be partially to blame for the increase in teenagers becoming addicted to nicotine through vaping.

U.S. House Representative Diana DeGette (Dem-Colorado), introduced the bill known as the “SAFE Kids Act” in March 2019. Colorado reportedly has the nation’s highest rate of teens using e-cigarettes. DeGette stated in a press release that kid-friendly flavors “are one of the leading causes of this spike in use among our high school and middle school students.”

E-cigarette Use Rising In Youth

Most e-cigarettes have a cartridge or reservoir that holds a liquid solution containing nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. Their use among teens has been increasing for several years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 1.5 million more youth e-cigarette users in 2018 compared to 2017.

One study from Dartmouth College indicated that for every one adult who quits smoking because of e-cigarettes, 81 more children develop a regular smoking habit because of them.

In November 2018, the FDA announced new restrictions on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in response to the rising use of the products by teens. The FDA banned the sale of the products in stores that did not have areas prohibiting young people under the age of 18, and established new age-verification standards for online stores selling e-cigarettes.

The FDA has also required e-cigarette manufacturers to submit any flavored e-cigarettes to the FDA for premarket approval by 2021. The administration stopped short of banning these products, though, so DeGette’s bill is seeking further protections.

“To me,” she states in the press release, “there is no legitimate reason to sell any product with names such as cotton candy or tutti fruitti, unless you are trying to market to children. If we’re going to address the root cause of this problem, we have to start by banning the sale of these enticing kid-friendly nicotine flavors.”

The SAFE Kids Act would give manufacturers one year to prove that the use of flavors like gummy bear and cookies ’n cream are only to help adults stop smoking, and don’t lead to increased use of e-cigarettes among teens. If they cannot do so, the bill would require that they no longer be allowed to make or sell those products in the U.S.

Teens Unaware of the Dangers

One of the most popular types of e-cigarettes—the JUUL pod—is believed to have more nicotine than traditional cigarettes or other brands of e-cigarettes. Along with the product’s sleek flash-drive type design, the higher jolt makes the product even more popular among young people. One cartridge of a JUUL pod contains the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

CNN reports that it is not uncommon for kids using e-cigarettes to report symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, and other symptoms that are also common with nicotine toxicity, indicating that some of these products could be spiking nicotine levels in the blood.

Nicotine is highly addictive and dangerous for developing brains. Studies have linked nicotine use in adolescence to problems later in life, indicating that nicotine primes the brain for future substance abuse, increases the risk of developing psychiatric disorders and cognitive impairment, and can lead to attention deficits.

Other chemicals in the nicotine solutions have been linked to harmful effects as well, including serious lung disease, heavy metal toxicity and even cancer.

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