SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Three Scotch Plains teenagers are undertaking an effort to ban flavored vapes in the Township as part of their service learning project at Terrill Middle School. 

Seventh graders Ethan Murray, John Paino, and Noah Rotondo have created an online petition calling for the ban of flavored vapes on Change.org:

Most of us are familiar with the dangers of vaping. We know that there are flavors of vapes that you can buy for your e-cigarette. Do you know why these flavors are made? There are made to attract young kids and get them to start vaping. Our petition is to ban flavored vapes from the town of Scotch Plains, so these poor children don’t get pulled into the dangerous addiction of vaping. Sign this petition today and join the movement of getting flavored vapes banned from being sold around our beautiful town of Scotch Plains.

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Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device, according to Linda Richter, PhD, who oversees the policy-oriented research projects at Center on Addiction.  

The term "vaping" is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, but an aerosol, often mistaken for water vapor that consists of fine particles, Dr. Richter writes. Many of these particles contain varying amounts of toxic chemicals that have been linked to cancer, as well as respiratory and heart disease, according to her October 2018 Center on Addiction blog post.

To sign the online petition to ban flavored vape sales in Scotch Plains, click here

Use of e-cigarettes and vape pens has grown dramatically in the past decade. A vaping device consists of a mouthpiece, a battery, a cartridge for containing the e-liquid, and a heating component powered by a battery. When the device is used, the heating component vaporizes the e-liquid into an aerosol that is inhaled.

The popular vaping product is the JUUL, which is a sleek device that looks like a large fountain pen. It is easy to hide, which helps explain its popularity among middle schoolers and high school students, according to Dr. Richter. JUUL now owns more than 70% of the U.S. vaping market. It comes in flavors like mango and fruit medley that appeal to young people. Dr. Richter writes that "Every JUUL product contains a high dose of nicotine, with one pod or flavor cartridge containing about the same amount of nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes." 

News of the proposed ban quickly resulted in reaction from JUUL, the leading vaping product manufacturer, which contacted TAPintoSPF:

We have taken aggressive action to combat underage use of our products, while preserving the opportunity for adult smokers to switch from combustible cigarettes, which contribute to nearly 12,000 deaths per year in New Jersey

Flavors are a complex issue. We believe flavors play a critical role in switching adult smokers from cigarettes because flavors can help smokers disassociate from the taste of tobacco and the odor of cigarettes; we see the results in our own behavioral research. While we do not and will not sell flavors which are clearly targeted to youth, we also understand that flavors that drive adults from cigarettes have the potential to appeal to youth.

"I think the flavors and the packaging are designed to bring in young audiences. It almost looks like it's candy. I think it's inappropriate to target kids," said Scotch Plains Police Chief Ted Conley. "For adults trying to get off cigarettes, it could be a good thing. Vapes should marketed to adults only."

JUUL's spokesperson said that it tries to "strike the right balance between preserving accessibility for adult smokers, while restricting access for youth." The company has stopped the distribution of its non-tobacco-based flavored pods to traditional retail. JUUL now sells flavored products only through our eCommerce, where it utilizes "industry-leading third-party age-verification" and restricts bulk purchases.

In September, the FDA gave JUUL 60 days to introduce new initiatives to fight teen use. Now that time has expired, the FDA is taking action themselves, according to a report on Mashable.com. The restrictions will also apply to other big tobacco companies that sell flavored nicotine pods, according to the Mashable report.