RI'ers testify at public hearing on making ban on flavored vape products permanent
By: Brittany Comak
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) - The Rhode Island Health Department will consider whether or not to make the ban on flavored vaping products in the state permanent after hearing from the public during the month of January.
Dozens packed into the auditorium at the health department Tuesday night during a public hearing to say their piece.Some made their case that either vaping is helping adults quit smoking and live healthier lives.
"It is the kids that are driving this market, it's the kids that's driving the profit, and we need to do everything we can to stop that," said Kevin O'Flaherty of Tobacco Free Kids. O'Flaherty explained data which showed that vaping use among the youth as increased exponentially, while adult use has mostly remained the same.
The health department has said the main reason to make the current emergency ban permanent would be to keep youth from starting to vape, despite the FDA raising the vaping age to 21 just a few weeks ago.
"We're looking at, 'Ok we have adults over here: we want them to quit. But we have children over here that are getting addicted," said Respiratory Doctor and parent, Paul Mangino. "And I have to stand and support the ban on flavors because I really believe that the harm that it is doing to our children far outweighs the benefits that it's helping our adults at this time."
Jesse Killeen of The Juice Box in North Smithfield agreed, along with many others, that he doesn't want kids vaping either but thinks that absolute prohibition isn't the way to go about it.
"Should we protect our children? Absolutely! I love my boys to death," Killeen testified. "Would I want them to even start vaping? Absolutely not!"
Many speakers called it an enforcement issue that the state needs to address so adults can continue using the flavored vaping products to quit smoking.
Some were even emotional - worried the decision could cost them their lives.
"I've had a lung removed when I was smoking," testified vaper Michelle Coleman Dion. "Heart surgery - three times. I am so grateful. If you remove adults' access to these flavors, I will be forced back to smoking. I will die."
You can submit written testimony to the health department on the potential ban until January 26, and then the health department will decide on where they're going to go on the matter in February.
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