Two Georgia lawmakers said they plan to take action in the wake of the first vaping-related death in the state.
State Reps. Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee, and Gerald Greene, R-Cuthbert, announced Thursday that they plan to introduce legislation to address vaping and e-cigarette use in Georgia in the next session.
“As a mother of teenagers, I have firsthand knowledge of the insidious and harmful effects of youth vaping in our community,” Rich said. “For years I have battled the problem alongside other parents and our school administrators. Now, as a legislator, I have the ability to do more.”
The Georgia Department of Public Health announced the death of a Georgia patient with a history of nicotine vaping on Sept. 25. Nationwide, there has been a total of 12 vaping-related deaths. The Georgia DPH has also identified eight other cases of vaping-related pneumonia in the state. The patients, most of them male, range from 18 to 68 years, according to the DPH.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 800 cases of lung injuries due to vaping nationwide. Most of the patients reported using THC products. Nearly 70 percent of the patients are between 18 and 14 while 16 percent are under 18.
Greene said he hopes that legislative action could prevent future vaping-related illnesses and deaths in Georgia. Rich has consulted with law enforcement and judicial leaders in her district to construct legislation for the 2020 session.
“It has become increasingly clear that vaping and e-cigarette use has become a major public health concern that we must address here in Georgia,” Greene said.
The CDC has advised the public against using e-cigarettes or vaping products. Some states have implemented bans of flavored vaping products. President Donald Trump, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Health announced last month a plan to ban flavored vaping products.
Critics of the bans say that the restrictions will push people who vape to the black market and tobacco smokers back to cigarettes.