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Vaping: More study needed before lawmakers act

More study needed before lawmakers act

State Sen. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, is right to be worried about e-cigarettes. It was in his district, after all, that two teenagers had to be hospitalized after using e-cigarette cartridges laced with heroin.

Last week, Beach wrote to Gov. Jim Justice suggesting a public health emergency be declared in West Virginia, in order to ban sale of flavored e-cigarette cartridges.

He explained to a reporter he did not expect Justice to take the suggested action. He just wants to “bring awareness” to concerns about “vaping.”

E-cigarette cartridges come in a dizzying variety of flavors, everything from lime and coconut to “mango tango.” That makes them appealing to teenagers, many of whom take up “vaping” because they believe incorrectly that it is a safe alternative to tobacco.

It is not. Research indicates e-cigarettes have multiple harmful effects.

But they also are used by some adults to break the smoking habit — and it is no surprise that flavoring makes them more attractive for that purpose.

It has been pointed out that restrictions on or outright bans of e-cigarettes could increase smoking. And, as far as flavoring goes, cigars can be obtained in cherry, watermelon, pineapple and multiple other varieties. Vanilla pipe tobacco is popular. Smokeless tobacco comes in apple, grape, peach and other variations. Should flavored tobacco be banned, too? That might be worth discussion.

Justice will not take the action suggested in Beach’s letter, of course. But he should spend a few state dollars to gather and analyze the situation regarding e-cigarettes, to help lawmakers devise a workable action plan.

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