Escalating the war against vaping

We applaud the Lynn School Committee for giving its full support to making anti-vaping measures a top priority for the Lynn school’s Health Advisory Committee. 

The Sept. 12 committee decision comes on the heels of the city Board of Health’s vote in June to ban flavored nicotine and tobacco products from being sold in retail stores. Set to begin on Oct. 1, the ban is aimed at reducing vaping among students.

Instead of burning tobacco to convert it into inhalable smoke, vaping uses a chemical conversion process to create a stimulant. Dispensed in hand-held devices that have become progressively smaller as designs are perfected and available in 8,000 flavors, vaping packs a powerful punch when it comes to attracting teenage users and their dollars. 

But smoking’s new frontier has also spawned health hazards, as Committee member John Ford warned last week, that are only beginning to be studied and pinpointed. Ford cited Center for Disease Control statistics in noting reports of more than 450 cases of lung disease linked to so-called e-cigarettes. 

Lynn has a long and commendable history of battling the tobacco industry and now the vaping industry’s insatiable urge to sell its products to young people. Michael Geary, assistant director of health and wellness for the Lynn public schools, is right in zeroing in on vaping as a primary cause of health concerns for school officials. 

To his credit, Geary translated that concern into action by urging the committee to allow the Health Advisory Committee to make anti-vaping measures a 2019-2020 academic year top priority.

The committee counts a broad-sweeping array of educators, students, teachers and community representatives among its members. It can be expected to formulate additional proposals building on the Board of Health’s summer initiative to crack down on vaping. 

A new school year is the perfect time to flood students’ minds with information about vaping dangers and the many unknowns surrounding vaping’s long-term health effects. The tobacco industry has known for decades that when it comes to selling an addictive product, young customers are lifetime customers. It took a national anti-smoking campaign stretching over years to finally make cigarettes a social exception rather than the rule. 

Vaping needs to be consigned to the same fate and branded as a dangerous pariah. Let that effort begin with serious and sustained efforts to educate students on vaping’s dangers.

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