State lawmakers, health professionals weigh in on vaping, nicotine use

California Connection
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- State and local health officials Wednesday weighed in on the latest numbers of vaping and nicotine use in California.

With the rising popularity of electronic cigarettes, health officials told lawmakers nicotine use in California has also been on the rise since 2017. Officials say a quarter of America’s youth is now hooked.

“Unfortunately, it is true that these individuals probably will be seeking other products in the interim,” said Dr. Michael Ong with the University of California, Los Angeles. “I think that it will be really critical for us to come up with ways to help these individuals ween themselves off of this addiction. Again, part of it is the recognition that they're addicted to much higher levels than we traditionally have ever seen.”

The state Department of Public Health says as of this week, there have been 208 cases of EVALI, a vape-related lung injury, with four deaths across 31 counties in California since August of last year. Patients range in age from 14 to 71 years old.

Health officials say lately, cases of EVALI are on a downward trend but could not say exactly why.

“It’s not clear that this is gone forever and, therefore, our continuing surveillance and investment in surveillance of these products is going to be key going forward,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, the state public health officer and CDPH director.

Several local governments across the state and the Trump administration ramped up restrictions on flavored tobacco and e-cigarette sales. The federal government recently banned the sale of some flavored products.

The California Legislature this year is also considering a full ban on the sale of all flavored tobacco products.

Health officials say it could be a long time before we see the most significant impacts of e-cigarettes.

Ashley Zavala filed this report.

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