Vaping Legislation in Tennessee

After much deliberation and debate, the federal government has announced that they will prohibit the mint, dessert, candy, and fruit flavors from small e-cigarettes that are cartridge based devices that are very popular with high school students and even middle school students.  However, menthol and tobacco flavored e-cigarettes will remain  on the market. Also exempt is the tank based vaping devices and the flavored juices that are sold by vape shops in the brick and mortar variety and online through shops like smokingthings.com.  The reason for these actions is that the federal government is working to curb vaping amongst the youth while allowing those consenting adults who are smokers to slowly get off the smoking and move onto vaping instead.  It is this step down approach that has helped many smokers reduce and in many cases eliminate their dependence on nicotine.

However, the individual states can enact policy and laws that affect their own local jurisdiction.  In Tennessee, state lawmakers have pushed 2 bills ahead of the 2020 legislative session.  Both of these bills were filed by State Senator Brenda Gilmore.  The inspiration for the bills follows 2 deaths of Tennesseans from vaping related illnesses in 2019 as well as dozens of others becoming sick due to vaping.

The first bill is more of education type measure.  It would add additional language to the warning on vape bottles.  The federal government has already stipulated that bottles have the warning on it, but the proposed warning for Tennessee state is much longer.  In short it states that the use of e-cigarettes and such are not safe for kid, teens, and even young adults.  They continue to point out that these cigarettes contain  nicotine which is highly addictive and can harm the growing and forming adolescent brain into the early and mid 20s.  There is also a warning about lung disease, lung injury, and other compounds that can lead to sickness and even death.  There is also a warning that there is proof of children and adults that have been poisoned by swallowing,       breathing, or even absorbing the liquid into your skin or other orifices.  Lastly, the warning speaks about e-cigarette batteries which have cause fires and explosions.  This last thing is heavily documented and as such Tennessee lawmakers have made it a part of the bill.

The second bill is more of a requirement of the Department of Health to take some action.  In regards to vaping related illnesses, the Department of Health would need to offer information on its website in coordination with the department of education to let students in public middle schools, junior high, and senior high schools.  The focus here is to make sure at least on a public level that the student body is educated and knows the dangers of vaping.

In short, the two bills are about educating and making sure that people are aware of the dangers of vaping.  There are many positive uses for vape, but in the hands of youngsters who are underage, they also need to be informed.  To illustrate, in a study of middle schoolers, the CDC claimed that 1/3 did not know that vape contained nicotine.  This is the main reason that we need to inform those that need to be informed.

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