Lawmakers in the Constitution State are again attempting to ban the sale of flavored vapor products. The Joint Public Health Committee recently held a hearing on House Bill 6488, which would ban the sale of flavored vapes and some tobacco products. Opponents of vapor products, including Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, are against the legislation as it doesn’t address menthol cigarettes, and the organization has long argued for a full flavor ban on all tobacco and vapor products.
Lawmakers continue to refuse to acknowledge the significant declines in youth vaping, as well as the record lows in youth use of traditional tobacco products. Between 2019 and 2022, the percentage of middle and high school students that were currently using e-cigarettes (i.e., having used them on at least one occasion in the 30 days prior) declined by 53%. Further, in 2022, less than 2% of middle and high school students reported current use of cigars, cigarettes, or smokeless tobacco products.
As pointed out in testimony, according to national survey data, in 2021, among middle and high school students that were currently using e-cigarettes, nearly half (43.4%) reported using them because they were feeling “anxious, stressed, and/or depressed,” compared to only 13.2% who cited using them because they were available in flavors.
It is apparent that youths are using e-cigarettes to self-medicate, and this is more indicative of a more alarming trend: the increasing number of youths who are dying from drug overdoses.
Nationally, between 2019 and 2021, youth vaping decreased by 62%, while the number of youths dying from overdoses increased by 108%. In Connecticut, just last year, less than two miles away from the Connecticut state capitol, a 13-year-old overdosed at school and later passed away. Law enforcement found fentanyl in the school, as well as in the boy’s room. In fact, over 500 Connecticut youth and young adults aged 15 to 24 years old died from an overdose between 2015 and 2022, and overdose death rates increased by 8.8% in that age group between 2021 and 2022.
Amid an already massive market of illicit drugs that are causing unprecedented deaths among young people, lawmakers must refrain from prohibitionist policies that would create another illicit market of unregulated vapor and tobacco products.
Read Lindsey’s full testimony before the Connecticut Joint Committee on Public Health HERE and watch the video below.