City of Lincoln Passes T21 ordinance

The city of Lincoln passed a T21 ordinance during their April 30 meeting. TFND supports this measure for all of North Dakota’s cities and counties. The vote to change ordinance 12-07-12 Sale of Tobacco To and Possession, Sale or use by a person under the age of 21 ordinance was unanimous.

The age for purchase and possession of all tobacco products was increased to age 21 to match federal laws and allow for local enforcement of those laws. If cities don’t have local ordinances recognizing age 21 for tobacco products, it makes it difficult to enforce because violators will go to Federal Court instead of local. It is important for all cities to pass local ordinances for age 21.

Below are additional updates to ordinance:

  • Electronic Nicotine Devices (ENDS) will be now be categorized as tobacco products in Lincoln. Currently, state law for tobacco products does not include ENDS products and ENDS do not have a tobacco tax.
  • Child-resistant packaging requirements in accordance to ND State Law
  • Penalties for purchase and possession of tobacco have been increased. State law is $25, and Lincoln’s is going to be $100/$50.
  • Retailers (as well as the clerks) will now be able to be fined for selling tobacco to youth. Current ND law does not do penalize the retail establishment but rather the clerk. Lincoln’s ordinance will now do both. Structure fines for tobacco retailers.
  • Lincoln will implement a local retailer tobacco license to know who is currently selling tobacco.
  • Lincoln will also implement a ban on mobile retailers selling tobacco products to protect youth and easier to conduct a compliance checks at bricks and mortar buildings.

 

Thank you to our friends at the Bismarck Tobacco Free Coalition and the Lincoln City Council for their support and work on this important issue!

 

FDA Warns Manufacturers and Retailers to Remove Certain E-Cigarette Products Targeted to Youth from the Market

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent warnings to 10 different retailers and manufacturers on April 27 to pull e-cigarette products because they were marketing to youth. Below is the full press release from the FDA, as well as a link to their website by clicking here.

 

FDA Warns Manufacturers and Retailers to Remove Certain E-cigarette Products Targeted to Youth from the Market

Agency Continues to Target the Sale of Unauthorized, Flavored E-cigarette Products That Appeal to Youth

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued ten warning letters to retailers and manufacturers who sell, manufacture and/or import unauthorized electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) products targeted to youth or likely to promote use by youth. The warning letters were sent to establishments marketing unauthorized products, such as a backpack and sweatshirt designed with stealth pockets to hold and conceal an e-cigarette, ENDS products that resemble smartwatches, or devices appearing as children’s toys such as a portable video game system or fidget spinner. Warning letters were also issued to companies marketing e-liquids that imitate packaging for food products that often are marketed and appeal to youth, such as candy, or feature cartoon characters like SpongeBob SquarePants.

These warning letters are part of the FDA’s ongoing enforcement efforts against ENDS and other deemed tobacco products illegally on the market. The warning letters are also in line with the agency’s stated enforcement priorities against any ENDS product targeted to youth or likely to promote use by youth. If the recipients of these warning letters do not cease the manufacture, distribution and/or sale of these unauthorized tobacco products, they risk additional FDA action such as an injunction, seizure and/or civil money penalty actions.

“The FDA is focused on manufacturers and retailers that make and sell ENDS products that are targeted to youth and increase their appeal. The public should really be outraged by these products. The FDA is especially disturbed by some of these new products being marketed to children and teens by promoting the ease with which they can be used to conceal product use, which appeals to kids because it allows them to conceal tobacco product use from parents, teachers, law enforcement or other adults,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not lost our focus on protecting youth against the dangers of e-cigarettes and will do everything we can to take action. These warning letters should send a clear message to all tobacco product manufacturers and retailers that the FDA is keeping a close watch on the marketplace. If you’re marketing or selling these products to youth, the FDA will not tolerate it.”

The following retailers and/or manufacturers or importers received a warning letter:

  • Vaprwear Gear, LLC (manufacturer, online retailer)
  • Vapewear, LLC (manufacturer, online retailer)
  • Wizman Limited (manufacturer, online retailer)
  • EightCig, LLC (online retailer)
  • Ejuicepack, LLC (online retailer)
  • Vape Royalty, LLC (online retailer)
  • VapeCentric, Inc. (online retailer)
  • Dukhan Store (online retailer)
  • VapeSourcing (online retailer)
  • Shenzhen Uwell Technology Co., Ltd. d/b/a DTD Distribution Inc. (importer, retailer)

These products appeal to youth in the way they are designed and labeled. For example, Vaprwear Gear’s pullover and backpack products hold pod systems that deliver vapor through hosing discreetly woven through hidden pockets. This design allows the products to be used for vaping without raising the attention of parents, teachers or other adults. Similarly, the Vapewear vWaTch Starter Kit, Wizman Puff Boy Mod and VooPoo Rota 340mAh Pod System Kit look like products that are popular with kids, such as smartwatches, video game systems and fidget spinners, that can be carried or worn without revealing they are tobacco products. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), all these products are considered tobacco products because they are made or derived from tobacco and intended for human consumption or components or parts of such products. Images and additional details of each product are included in the individual warning letters available on CTP’s website.

The FDA has also issued warning letters to 73 brick-and-mortar retailers for selling unauthorized flavored, cartridge-based ENDS products. This follows 22 warning letters that FDA issued last month for similar violations to online and brick-and-mortar retailers and manufacturers across the country. These warning letters are part of a series of ongoing actions consistent with the FDA’s recently issued policy of enforcement priorities for e-cigarettes and other deemed products on the market.

Last month, in line with the agency’s actions to protect the health and well-being of staff during the COVID-19 outbreak, the FDA issued a partial stop work order to the entities the agency contracts with at the state level for activities such as compliance checks and vape shop inspections. The inspections related to the actions announced today occurred before the stop work order. The FDA continues to evaluate the effect of COVID-19 on its programmatic activities and will continue to communicate any changes as they occur. Guided by health and safety considerations, the FDA will continue taking appropriate actions, as outlined by its priorities, on a rolling basis.

These warning letters notify the retailers and manufacturers that new ENDS products without a marketing authorization order are adulterated and misbranded, and selling or distributing these products to customers in the U.S. is prohibited under the FD&C Act. Retailers and distributors are encouraged to communicate with their suppliers to discuss possible options for the unauthorized products in their inventory.

Additionally, as part of the agency’s efforts, the FDA has issued import alerts (here and here) for unauthorized tobacco products, including certain unauthorized ENDS products, imported into the U.S. informed by the agency’s enforcement priorities outlined in FDA’s guidance. Adulterated and misbranded tobacco products offered for import into the United States are subject to detention and refusal of admission. The FDA has also issued letters to more than 110 companies seeking information about the legal marketing status of more than 140 ENDS products.

Ultimately, manufacturers that intend to continue marketing any deemed, new tobacco product on the market as of Aug. 8, 2016—including ENDS products—must submit an application to the FDA by Sept. 9, 2020 that demonstrates that the product meets the applicable standard in the law, such as whether the product is appropriate for the protection of the public health. This date was recently extended (from May 12, 2020) due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. As a resource for manufacturers preparing and submitting tobacco product applications for new deemed products, the FDA recently launched a new webpage to provide a single location for all relevant information, including tips and resources on the application submission processes. For certain deemed tobacco products, the FDA is already prioritizing its enforcement, as outlined in its guidance on enforcement priorities for ENDS and other deemed tobacco products.

All of these efforts, in addition to enforcement of the new law raising the federal minimum age for sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years and the recent expansion of the FDA’s public education campaign to include videos featuring teenagers sharing cautionary tales about their e-cigarette addiction, are aimed at keeping these products out of the hands of youth. The agency also recently released new resources with ScholasticExternal Link Disclaimer for middle and high-school educators and school administrators. The materials, which include new lessons, worksheets and videos, are available online for free and are adaptable for virtual learning.

The FDA continues to monitor youth use of all e-cigarette products and will continue to expand its public education efforts and use the agency’s regulatory authority—changing course as necessary—to further ensure all tobacco products, and e-cigarette products in particular, are not marketed to, sold to, or used by youth.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

BBC News: France bans online sales of nicotine products

This article appeared in the BBC News on April 24. It describes why France is banning internet sales of tobacco products.

CTFK on New Jersey Flavored E-Cigarette Ban

This statement is from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids on April 20 as a New Jersey law banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes became active.

This article from January further explains the ban and provides a link to the language of the bill.

New Jersey Ban on Sale of All Flavored E-Cigarettes Takes Effect Today

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
April 20, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – New Jersey’s historic law prohibiting the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes takes effect today. This action is the right move to reverse skyrocketing youth use of e-cigarettes and couldn’t come at a better time as health experts are warning that smoking and vaping can worsen the effects of COVID-19. It’s more critical than ever to keep our lungs healthy. This measure is necessary to prevent e-cigarettes from addicting a new generation of kids and reversing the enormous progress we have made in reducing youth tobacco use.

New Jersey is one of four states that have prohibited the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, along with Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island (Massachusetts prohibited the sale of all flavored tobacco products). The recently passed New York law will be implemented May 18. We strongly urge other states to join protecting the health of our kids by ending the sale of flavored tobacco products.

There is no time to waste as the youth e-cigarette epidemic has gone from bad to worse. According to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey (2019 NYTS), e-cigarette use among high school students nationwide increased to 27.5% in 2019 compared to 11.7% in 2017. Altogether, more than 5.3 million middle and high school students now use e-cigarettes. The evidence is clear that flavored e-cigarettes have fueled this epidemic – 97% of youth e-cigarette users report using a flavored product in the past month, and 70% cite flavors as the reason for their use.

Bloomberg News: FDA Says Smokers May Have Higher Risk of Catching Covid-19

This article appeared on the Bloomberg News website on April 21. To read the full article, please click here.

FDA Says Smokers May Have Higher Risk of Catching Covid-19

By:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration made a second revision on its stance about the risks of Covid-19 and nicotine, saying that cigarettes also increase the chances of catching the disease.

“People who smoke cigarettes may be at increased risk of infection with the virus that causes Covid-19, and may have worse outcomes from Covid-19,” the agency said in an emailed response to a question from Bloomberg News.

Earlier this month, the FDA had said that smokers may have worse outcomes from Covid-19, but hadn’t been explicit about whether that included their chances of catching the virus in the first place.

The clarification comes as researchers and regulators race to study the new virus. There are nearly 2.5 million confirmed cases and more than 171,000 deaths worldwide from Covid-19. The world’s estimated 1.1 billion people who smoke and 41 million people who vape have so far gotten varying guidance on the virus’s potential threat from public health agencies.

Cigarette manufacturers, like Marlboro maker Philip Morris International Inc., say people should look to governmental health authorities and medical professionals for advice. “Nicotine and tobacco products are not risk-free, and the best thing anyone can do is to quit altogether. Those who do not quit smoking should consider switching to regulated smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes, such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products,” Philip Morris spokesman Corey Henry said.

With a disease that has only been studied for a few months, regulators and researchers have looked to old data on how cigarette smoking effects those with the flu, bronchitis and pneumonia. They’re also pressing ahead on new studies on vaping, which hasn’t been around as long as smoking. The FDA noted in its April 14 statement that cigarette smoking “causes heart and lung diseases, suppresses the immune system, and increases the risk of respiratory infections.”

In its March 27 statement on the risks, the FDA had said that vaping and smoking only posed a higher risk for the coronavirus in people who had underlying conditions.

Some groups have said vaping may be safer than smoking.

The FDA said in its prior statement that the effects of vaping on Covid-19 are unknown, while cautioning that it exposes the lungs to toxic chemicals.

(Updates to include Philip Morris comment in the fifth paragraph)

LA Times: Tobacco, vaping industries seize opportunities in coronavirus with freebies, donations

This article appeared online for the LA Times on April 17. The full article can be accessed by clicking here

Tobacco, vaping industries seize opportunities in coronavirus with freebies, donations

Running low on surgical masks during the pandemic? You can get two for free by ordering a Moti Piin, a battery-powered vaping pen, from the company’s online shop.

Or buy sleek cartridges from Smok, another e-cigarette brand, and earn chances to win disposable gloves and up to 10,000 masks.

“COVID19 RELIEF EFFORT” blasts the ad of another online shop offering two-for-one e-liquid vials. Buyers at another shop get 19% off nicotine e-juices if they enter the code COVID-19.

As the global pandemic strains the world’s inventory of medical supplies, the tobacco and vaping industries are taking advantage of a unique opportunity, offering freebie protective gear, doorstep deliveries and festive pandemic-themed discounts. Some players have donated ventilators and mounted charity campaigns.

The tobacco companies insist they are simply doing their part to help during the crisis. But the coronavirus-related marketing has been criticized by anti-smoking advocates who call it hypocritical and potentially dangerous. They note that people with lungs damaged by smoking are at an elevated risk if they catch the virus, and that vaping has been linked to a growth in tobacco use, particularly among teens.

“It’s as if they don’t realize they’re in the business of destroying lungs,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “It literally takes your breath away. It makes the word ‘hypocrisy’ feel feeble.”

Researchers have long known the dangers of tobacco products, which kill more than 8 million people each year, according to the World Health Organization. Smoking weakens a person’s ability to fight off respiratory infections and drives up their risk of developing the types of chronic lung conditions that underlie many of the most severe coronavirus cases.

Health officials are adding the pandemic to their long list of reasons that people should quit. E-cigarettes can be efficient carriers of the virus, they note. They are often passed around and shared; smokers frequently touch their face and mouth. The smoke and vapor that waft through the air could spread infectious particles to people and surfaces nearby, say scientists.

But the American Vaping Assn. circulated an editorial in late March that urged state officials to lift bans of online e-cigarette sales, arguing that online sales promote safety because it keeps people from making trips outside their home. Continued access to e-cigarettes prevents people from relapsing back into smoking cigarettes, they added.

In one doorstep delivery promotion, a woman beams as she opens her vaping package, her fists raised in the air. In another, hand-in-hand models ask customers to help “build a community with a shared future for humanity.”

“Hurry and save today,” an Instagram ad said, with the hashtags #corona, #quarantine, #vapenation.

Research published in American and Chinese journals already suggests that tobacco users often fare worse with coronavirus infections. The effects of vaping on a case of COVID-19 are less conclusive, but scientists say a surge of lung infections tied to the habit last summer gives them reason for worry. “Because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape,” the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, warned in a statement last month.

The tobacco industry has used the moment to enhance its public image, especially with charitable giving. The world’s biggest tobacco company, Philip Morris International, donated 50 ventilators to the government of Greece, which has one of the highest smoking rates in Europe. The country has seen 2,100 cases of COVID-19, and at least 100 people have died.

The company, which holds 40% of the Greek tobacco market, did not appear to publicize its donation and did not respond to an inquiry from The Times.

Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia has asked tobacco companies to take on a similar role and supply respirator masks in the United States.

Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, announced a $1-million relief investment to help support vulnerable residents surrounding its headquarters in Richmond, Va., and other regions where manufacturing takes place. Caring for each other and doing what’s right is core to our company,” Jennifer Hunter, the company’s senior vice president for corporate citizenship, said in a statement.

Altria said in a statement that its companies were “working to protect their employees, consumers and communities from the virus.”

Meanwhile, vape manufacturers and retailers are donating bottles of hand sanitizer to local police and fire departments across the country, according to the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association.

Individual vaping companies did not respond to inquiries from The Times.

In Los Angeles, smoke shops have been among the businesses most resistant to orders that they close. Los Angeles prosecutors have filed criminal charges against two smoke supply establishments, accusing them of refusing to comply with the city’s strict Safer at Home order intended to slow the spread of the virus.

On the store shelves, N95 respirators and hand sanitizer tubes are stacked beside glass bongs and e-liquids. “TIMES ARE TUFF,” one shop’s signage read. “WE GOT YOU.”

“We had a smoke shop that just refused to close,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “And even when police officers were there, they said, ‘Forget you’ — probably not in as nice words — ‘we’re not going to do it.’” He said the city was going to move to shut off the shop’s power.

Unexpectedly high numbers of younger people have become severely ill from the virus, and some experts suspect a link to vaping. “The COVID-19 crisis should be a wake-up call that your age doesn’t matter if your lungs are compromised,” Myers said.

Most of the companies’ websites still include legally required disclaimers about age restrictions. But the flavors range from Oatmeal Cookies and Yogurt Drink to Blueberry Parfait and Watermelon Rush, a colorful cartridge displayed in its promotion next to a bright glass of juice. The Food and Drug Administration attempted to ban such flavors years before the trend ballooned among teenagers, only to have the plan rejected by top White House officials, a Times investigation found last year.

There may be a silver lining to e-cigarette sales during the extended quarantine. It’s much harder for addicted teenagers to keep the habit a secret, Myers said.

“Tens of thousands of parents are likely realizing for the first time: Their kids are definitely still vaping.”

AL.com: Is vaping essential? Why smoke shops are open during the shutdown

This story appeared on al.com website on April 12. The story follows how Alabama’s vape shops are staying open and what it means for their public health. The link to the original story can be found here.

Is vaping essential? Why smoke shops are open during the shutdown

Business is booming inside the 1st Avenue Hookah and Vape Shop in the Avondale neighborhood of Birmingham where Don Scott is fielding orders for hookahs and vapes and pipes during a respiratory pandemic.

The small vape and smoke shop remains open, omitted from a list of “essential” business but also not included among the businesses listed for closure under Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s stay-at-home order.

If people maintain 6-feet social distancing, and the capacity is restricted inside the store, the tobacco and electronic cigarette sales can go on.

“We are doing it safe here, we have hand sanitizers, and our sales have gone up,” said Scott. “They’ve not stopped.”

The fact that vape shops throughout Alabama remain open is a concern for anti-smoking advocates and state lawmakers who, in recent years, pushed for a crackdown on an industry accused at times of peddling flavored products to underage youths.

But what is going on in Alabama is not uncommon across the U.S., where governors have issued stay-at-home orders that do not address vape or smoke shops. According to a review of 40 state stay-at-home orders issued last month, “there isn’t a single state order that has designated a vape shop as an essential business,” according to Boot Bullwinkle, spokesman with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Even though vape shops are not considered “essential business,” they remain open in many cases, Bullwinkle said.

“For example, whereas some states require all non-essential businesses to close, some states allow non-essential businesses to stay open if they maintain social distancing rules, and some state orders specifically encourage non-essential businesses to adopt curbside delivery or other remote means to conduct their business,” he said.

‘Tragic’

That is the case in Alabama, where the state Department of Public Health – in a FAQ sheet answering questions about Ivey’s order – recommends that businesses like “tobacco stores” deliver products to people’s homes or meet customers at the curb.

The FAQ sheet also poses the following question, “Before asking whether you can legally do X, Y, or Z, ask yourself, ‘Is doing X, Y, or Z a good idea?’ If doing X, Y, or Z would increase the risk of transmitting COVID-19, try not to do it.”

Still, neon lighted “Open” signs remain affixed to the front doors of many vape shops around Alabama.

Some lawmakers are concerned they are allowed to remain open during a pandemic in which the spreading virus attacks the lungs.

“It’s very tragic,” said state Rep. Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile, who has backed legislation adopted last year that restricts stores from selling nicotine and vape products to people under 19. “If you look at the data coming out of the Department of Public Health, this disease is a great equalizer. But those with an underlying illness and with a bad habit such as smoking and vaping, they are (more) prone.”

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in an Op-Ed piece published April 2 in the Denver Post, wrote that vaping may worsen the effects of COVID-19 by attacking the lungs, placing people who vape at greater risk than people who do not.

Dr. Alan Blum, director of the University of Alabama’s Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society, said the pandemic should allow smokers time to find better ways to control their nicotine additions through either “simple relaxation exercises” or other means such as eating more fruits and vegetables.

“We need to be sympathetic to those who are using electronic cigarettes to stop smoking, but at a time when one of the worst viruses we have ever seen is taking aim at our lungs, the last thing anyone should be doing is inhaling nicotine either from a cigarette or an e-cigarette,” Blum said. “Right now, the only sensible way to reduce one’s nicotine craving would be to use a nicotine-containing patch, gum or lozenge.”

Demand remains

Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association and an attorney in New Jersey, said there is no evidence linking vaping to “any COVID-19 outcome.”

He said the past lung illnesses and deaths linked to vaping were the result of “illicit” use of THC-containing e-cigarettes dealt “on the black market.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with state and local health authorities, reported a spike in vaping-related lung illnesses in August and September 2019. But ever since then, the CDC reported in February, they’ve been on a decline.

Conley said that linking coronavirus and vaping is done by people “to generate headlines on their pet political issue.” He said that pushing for vape shops to close could lead to more people turning to cigarette smoking to get their nicotine fix during the pandemic.

In Alabama, 20.9% of adults are smokers, according to the most recent World Health Organization figures. That’s the 10th highest in the U.S.

Conley said that vape stores, like other small businesses struggling during the pandemic, “not hitting the revenue numbers they had three months ago.” Online sales, he said, are trended upward.

“But there is a demonstrated need for these products among ex-smokers who rely upon them to stay away from cigarettes,” he said. “The demand for the product who need it the most remains through the potentially life-changing pandemic.”

Lobbying strength

The ability for vape and smoke shops to remain open, while restaurants and bars are closed, has raised eyebrows among those who follow Alabama politics. Restaurants are allowed to deliver meals to houses and offer curbside service, but the delivery of alcoholic beverages in Alabama is prohibited.

Keith Herbert, a history professor at Auburn University who specializes in the history of Alabama and Southern culture, said effective lobbying by tobacco interests is probably one reason why the shops are spared from temporary closures.

He said that lobbying influences affected President Donald Trump — who at one point expressed interest in tough crackdowns against flavored e-cigarettes – to relent to a more limited ban on sales of flavored vaping pods. Trump reportedly expressed regret, during a January phone call with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, for getting involved in vaping regulations.

Herbert compared the strength of tobacco lobbying to the restaurant and bar industry.

“Unfortunately, I suspect that if (restaurants and bars) had a national lobbying organization aligned with a particular ideological view capable of motivating the electorate, they might too have been spared from stricter regulations,” Herbert said.

Tobacco stocks, meanwhile, haven’t been hammered during the pandemic. Tobacco shops in Italy and France – among supermarkets and pharmacies – were a few of the businesses allowed to remain open during their lockdowns.

“Pragmatically, there is a case for keeping the ‘vice-related’ businesses operational; other countries kept their tobacco stores open throughout this period,” said Robert Blanton, chairman of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Alabama. “Health reasons aside – and that’s a big aside – it would be difficult to force a smoke-to-quit (effort) during a quarantine period.”

ABC23: Family warns of symptoms and health dangers of vaping

This story was posted on ABC23’s website on April 14. ABC23 serves Bakersfield, California. The original link to the story can be found here

Family warns of symptoms and health dangers of vaping

Posted at 8:41 PM, Apr 14, 2020

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — This past march 16-year-old Ryker Schamblin had a cough along with nausea and vomiting for about a week. So, his parents took him to urgent care where he got an x-ray, doctors thought he had pneumonia and prescribed standard medications and sent him home.

A few days later Ryker hadn’t improved and was still having trouble breathing, so they took him to the emergency room.

“Immediately kind of thought it was a COVID to be honest with you. He had the clinical picture of a COVID presentation,” said Mark Schamblin, Ryker’s dad.

Ryker was immediately admitted into the intensive care unit. He was put on oxygen, and given an x-ray, CT scan and was tested for COVID-19. After his first night in the ICU his breathing worsened, and doctors said he had acute respiratory distress syndrome also known as ARDS. The next morning doctors told his parents his x-rays were ten times worse and he needed to be intubated immediately.

“As dad it’s a nightmare. I’ve said often times if there’s one thing that could break me it would be losing a kid or losing him. So, as a dad it’s painful and as a doctor who’s seen these things sometimes go the wrong way, you can’t help but panic that he’s not going to come out of it,” said Mark.

Ryker’s doctors began some treatment but were waiting for the result of his COVID-19 test to ensure the next best course of treatment. The hospital even sending the COVID-19 test out of town to get faster results.

His test came back negative but while the nurses prepped Ryker for the ventilator, they found a clue that lead to the right diagnoses, vape pens.

Ryker was placed on a RotoProne bed, used to treat acute respiratory distress. Part of the bed treatment required him to be placed facedown for 16 hours. His family said it was hard to sign off on the treatment once they saw the risks which included, facial disfiguration, blindness and skin wounds.

“That was the hardest part was while he was on the RotoProne bed because we couldn’t see him,” said Dana Schamblin, Ryker’s mom.

After eight days of being in a medically induced coma and a series of breathing tests, Ryker finally began to recover.

His parents said they took pictures because, “We wanted him to be able to see them and see what he went through. I mean our word versus – pictures speak for themselves,” said Dana.

Ryker is home now recovering, he lost 30 pounds in the hospital and said he never thought this would happen to him. He also hopes he can let other people know the danger of vaping.

“Just don’t do it. You don’t want to go through that, you don’t want to see your parents cry, you don’t want to see any of that there’s no point,” said Ryker.

Vape Industry Trying to Lobby Federal, State Governments as “Essential Businesses”

Vaping is not an approved method of cessation- Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome Adams made that very clear during his 2020 Smoking Cessation report. Still, the industry is fighting at the state and federal level to stay open as an “essential business.”

The World Health Organization says smoking can increase your risk of catching COVID-19 and lead people who smoke to have more serious complications. Our friends at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) released this statement in response to the reports:

 

Absurd and Irresponsible: Vape Shops Claim They Are Essential When Vaping May Worsen Effects of COVID-19 and Has Addicted Millions of Kids

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
April 15, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As we combat the coronavirus, it has never been more important to have healthy lungs. So it is absurd and irresponsible for vape shops to claim they are essential businesses that should be allowed to remain open during the COVID-19 shutdown. How in the world can vape shops make these claims when over 5 million kids use e-cigarettes and there is mounting concern among public health experts that smoking and vaping can worsen the effects of COVID-19? Vape shops should not be allowed to exploit a lung health crisis to push products that harm your lungs – especially products often sold in kid-friendly flavors like mint, gummy bear and cotton candy.

News reports indicate vape shops are lobbying the Trump Administration to be listed as essential, and they have similarly lobbied states and cities across the country. The Administration and other policy makers must reject these efforts. Now more than ever, our priority should be protecting the health and lungs of kids, not the special interests of vape shops.

The reasons to reject these vape shop appeals are clear.

The coronavirus attacks the lungs, and behaviors that weaken the lungs put individuals at greater risk. The harmful impact of smoking on the lungs is well documented, and there is growing evidence that vaping can harm lung health as well. Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, recently noted, “Because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or marijuana or who vape.” The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, has publicly stated that people with underlying health conditions are particularly at risk, and this “includes people who smoke and/or vape tobacco or nicotine-containing products.”

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, e-cigarettes were addicting a new generation of kids and reversing decades of progress in reducing youth tobacco use. According to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey, e-cigarette use among high school students nationwide increased to 27.5% in 2019 compared to 11.7% in 2017. Altogether, more than 5.3 million middle and high school students now use e-cigarettes.

While youth e-cigarette addiction has risen sharply, there is scant evidence that e-cigarettes benefit public health. Earlier this year, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a comprehensive report based on the best available evidence that found “there is presently inadequate evidence to conclude that e-cigarettes, in general, increase smoking cessation.”

It is highly irresponsible to argue that e-cigarettes should be considered essential when they could well put users at greater risk for serious complications from COVID-19, they are addicting our kids, and they have not been proven to help smokers quit. Rather than protecting vape shops, policy makers should act now to help more smokers and vapers quit and to prevent kids from ever starting to use tobacco products, including by prohibiting all flavored tobacco products. The coronavirus pandemic should serve as a wakeup call to make our lungs healthier now and for the future.