ANNAPOLIS, Md. — With the count of Maryland vaping related illness now up to 51 according to the state health department, anti-vaping legislators have just filed an emergency bill for the upcoming General Assembly session that will try to ban vape products with flavors.
"I think states need to lead the way because we're not seeing the federal government take action," said Sen. Clarence Lam of Howard County.
Lam is the only medical doctor serving in the state senate. He also holds a master's degree in public health.
Lam says he's concerned President Trump is backing away from early support for a federal flavored vapor products ban.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is now confirming at least 47 deaths and 2,290 injuries related to vaping nationwide.
Teens and young adults are at particular risk because vapor products with flavors like vanilla, mango, and bubble gum are now being used at crisis levels among middle and high school-aged kids, Lam said.
The Food and Drug Administration's 2019 Youth Tobacco Survey found that nearly 28% of high school students report using vape products. Only 11% reported vape product use in 2017, according to the FDA.
The agency report calls the rise "alarming."
Vape shop owners, like Eric Fritschler of Vapor Worldwide in Gaithersburg, believe a vape ban will be bad for public health because so many adults like him are vaping to get off cigarettes.
"It saved my life," Fritschler said, noting that most adults used the flavored products targeted by the proposed Maryland ban.
According to an economic study released Friday by the Vapor Technology Association nearly 92% of vape products are flavors other than tobacco. The study predicts a national ban would effectively kill a $25 billion dollar business.