Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in Washington, according to the state Department of Health. In November 2015, Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health unanimously passed vaping regulations. The rules protect the public from second-hand vaping smoke and keep youth from accessing vapor products.
On Sept. 10 of this year, a judge decided in favor of parties in a lawsuit that challenged parts of the Health Department regulations to address vapor product sampling and ventilation at retail vape shops. The Health Department will appeal the judge’s decision because it does not allow for adequate protection of public health and is contrary to the vaping law the state Legislature enacted in 2016.
“We think the judge got it wrong. Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health has the authority to take this action,” said Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH, director of health. “And the state law does not prevent us from taking additional steps to protect the health of our residents. New research shows more worrisome health effects. We plan to appeal,” he said.
The danger for youth
Vapor products may contain toxic chemicals known to cause cancer and nicotine. Nicotine is especially unsafe for youth because it can interfere with brain development, which may continue until age 25. At a young age, nicotine use may also promote addiction and lead to long-term tobacco use. Recent research shows many teens start smoking regular cigarettes soon after introduction to nicotine through electronic vaporizers.
This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took a strong stance to protect youth against vaping. The agency called teen vaping a national epidemic and plans to take aggressive steps to address this public health concern.
Local regulation aligns with state law
The Board of Health passed the local vaping regulations to protect youth from e-cigarettes and prohibit adult use in public places to align with the state Smoking in Public Places Law. In recent years, vapor products have grown in popularity. In Pierce County, an estimated 14 percent of 10th graders and 18 percent of 12th graders have used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days according to the state’s 2016 Healthy Youth Survey.
Read more about Pierce County vaping and smoking regulations at www.tpchd.org/tobaccolaws.
About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment to protect public health. We are one of roughly 220 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.