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Multnomah County wants vaping crackdown

Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE  - Ben Arboleda blows a cloud of vapor into his hand after taking a puff from his electronic cigarette at Escape Vapor Lounge. E-cigs helped Arboleda quit smoking cigarettes.Vaping is on the rise and Multnomah County wants to do something about it.

Vaping is the popular term for using e-cigarettes, formally known as nicotine inhalant delivery systems. According to the county Health Department, vaping among Oregon 11th-graders has almost tripled in recent years, from 1.8% in 2011 to 5.2% in 2013. Over 10 percent of high school students in the county have tried them, the department says.

There are currently no restrictions on the sale of e-cigarettes. The Multnomah County Commission will consider a policy order in support of regulating the sale and use of them on Thursday. The county health department will preview the order before the Portland City Council on Wednesday.

Advocates say e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco products and can help people stop smoking.

The proposed order banning the use of e-cigarettes to minors and banning vaping where tobacco smoking is currently prohibited.

According to the council and commission agendas, the health department sees vaping as a growing national problem that the county should address if the 2015 Oregon Legislature doesn't take action. The following are among the reasons for concern:

• Nationally, 9.3% of youth who have used inhalant delivery systems have never smoked conventional cigarettes.

• Between 2010 and 2011, rates of both awareness and use of unregulated inhalant delivery systems by adults also increased significantly.

• The ingredients of cartridges, refill solutions, and aerosol sometimes include harmful or potentially harmful chemicals.

• Nicotine, a primary ingredient in most e-cigarettes, is highly addictive and is known to interfere with adolescent brain development.

• Some examples of e-cigarette flavors that could particularly appeal to youth are Bubble Gum, Snicker Doodle, Gummi Bear, Skittles, Mountain Dew, and the children’s cereal Captain Crunch.

• Some cartridges used by inhalant delivery systems can be re-filled with liquid nicotine solution, creating the potential for exposure to dangerous concentrations of nicotine. Poisonings from inhalant delivery systems have increased dramatically in the last three and half years from one a month in September 2010 to 215 a month in February 2014. Analysis of reports of poisonings from inhalant delivery systems finds that calls reporting exposure to inhalant delivery systems are much more likely to involve adverse health effects when compared to calls reporting exposure to conventional cigarettes.

• Multnomah County retailers continue to sell tobacco to underage consumers evidenced by 2014 Synar results finding 31% of tobacco retailers unlawfully selling to minors.

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