Christine Cohen

State Senator

Christine Cohen

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Listening, Advocating & Getting Results

October 1, 2019

Sen. Cohen, Reps. Scanlon and Comey and
Branford Public School Representatives Hold Informational Vaping Forum

BRANFORD, CT – Today, state Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford), and state Representatives Robin Comey (D-Branford) and Sean Scanlon (D-Guilford) were joined by Yale School of Public Health Assistant Professor Abigail S. Friedman and Branford public school officials as the group held a community information forum on the dangers associated with teenage usage of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or vapes).

In a room with concerned residents, the lawmakers also discussed the legislative measures they are taking to protect Connecticut’s youth from these harmful products. Connecticut’s Department of Public Health has reported 34 cases of vaping-related lung injuries in our state with 1,479 nationwide.

According to a report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there have been 33 vaping-related deaths in 24 states as of October 15 of this year. Per the CDC’s report, e-cigarette usage is unsafe for all ages and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. As the specific causes of lung injury are not yet known, the CDC is urging the public to “consider refraining from use of all e-cigarette, or vaping, products.” Sen. Cohen agreed, stating individuals should stay away from vaping and adding that the more individuals know about the health risks of vaping, the better.

“These products are potentially extremely harmful and we do not yet know the extent of the damage one is doing to their body when vaping,” said Sen. Cohen. “It is important as we learn more about the dangerous effects of e-cigarettes, and most importantly, that we ensure young people do not have access to these products. This informational forum provided us with a space to share with the community what we already do know about e-cigarettes and to inform them of what we are doing legislatively to keep Connecticut teens safe. We have the opportunity to collaborate with families, school administrators, health officials and state representatives to combat this issue. I am thankful to those who participated in the forum and I remain committed to working diligently together to keep these products out of the hands of our youth.”

Assisting in that effort to keep vapes away from teens, the legislature passed a law, which went into effect on October 1, which made it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. The law, dubbed Tobacco 21, increases the legal purchase age of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaping products and other tobacco products from 18 to 21. The law additionally increases penalties for tobacco sales to individuals under the age of 21 and bans smoking and e-cigarette use on school and child care center grounds, among other changes. Businesses found to sell tobacco products to underage patrons will see fines increased from $200 to $300 for first offenses, from $350 to $750 for second offenses, and from $500 to $1,000 for further offenses. They also face a possible revocation of their license to sell tobacco products. Rep. Scanlon said this legislation is an important step to combatting an issue which his constituents are increasingly becoming more and more concerned about.

“The dramatic rise in teen vaping and the recent outbreak of vaping-related illnesses is something we’ve been hearing a lot about from constituents and we wanted to put this forum together to educate the public – and especially parents – on what we have done and what we still need to do in order to address it in a responsible way,” said Rep. Sean Scanlon.

Per the CDC, E-cigarettes work by heating a liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs. The liquid can contain: nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinoid (CBD) oils, and other substances and additives. THC is the psychoactive mind-altering compound of marijuana that produces the high. There have been 1,479 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products that have been reported to CDC from 49 states since October 15 of this year. Rep. Comey said education is the key to keeping individuals away from vaping products.

“Vaping has been in the public health news spotlight and there continues to be misinformation about the impact it may have on users,” said Rep. Comey. “As we learn more about its negative effects, including death and addiction, we must make every possible effort to educate and inform everyone, and especially youngsters, on this rapidly growing trend.”