OPS Supports Clatsop County’s Tobacco Retail License Ordinance
Dear Clatsop County Board of Commissioners and Mr. Don Bohn, County Administrator,
The Oregon Pediatric Society (OPS) is the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. OPS members believe that the safety, security, and health of all children and youth is a community’s most important endeavor. We write to support the proposed Clatsop County Tobacco Retail License Ordinance.
Tobacco remains a major cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States, and one of the major drivers of health care costs. Ninety-five percent of tobacco users begin before age 21. Adolescents are more likely to become addicted to nicotine due to the powerful effect of nicotine on their developing brain.
The dangers of tobacco use are well documented and undisputed. Tobacco when used as directed is lethal. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 16 million Americans who are living with a disease caused by smoking, and smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths a year.
The accelerated use of e-cigarettes and vaping are alarming. In a 2018 survey by the National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 20% of high school students and 5% of middle school students admitted to using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. Adolescents and young adults who use e-cigarettes are 3.6 times more likely to use tobacco. With a resurgence of adolescent nicotine use and the increased likelihood of tobacco use in e-cigarette users, action must be taken to combat this growing public health epidemic.
E-Cigarettes and vaping products should be included in the Tobacco Retail License Law. Not only does vaping increase the likelihood of using tobacco as an adult, it exposes the user to multiple harmful chemicals. There have been over 2,500 documented cases of Vaping Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) with several needing lung transplant and 54 deaths. Exposure to the nicotine liquid has caused over 3,000 calls to poison control centers a year and is responsible for 1 death. Toxic exposure to nicotine liquid can occur by both ingestion and exposure to the skin. Vaping aerosols can contain known toxicants and cancer-causing chemicals such as aldehydes, nitrosamines, tobacco alkaloids, heavy metals such as lead, nickel and tin, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These chemicals are respiratory irritants which increase the risk of cough, wheeze, and asthma exacerbations in users as well as increasing their risk for cancer.
It is a community’s responsibility to prevent and protect youth from behaviors that will harm them. Strong tobacco retail license laws have been very effective in limiting youth access to tobacco and e-cigarettes. These ordinances have been implemented in many counties across the nation with significant reductions in those jurisdictions of youth nicotine products usage.
The Oregon Pediatric Society strongly supports the implementation of Tobacco Retail Licenses across Oregon because they will decrease nicotine use by children and tobacco related diseases. A local community has the right and responsibility to protect their children from the addictive effects and the lifelong health hazards of nicotine use. We urge you to adopt a TRL in your county.
If you have any questions for our board of directors or pediatrician members, please contact OPS through its Executive Director, Julie Scholz.
Carla D. McKelvey, MD, MPH, FAAP
President of the OPS Board
On behalf of the Oregon Pediatric Society Board of Directors and the OPS Advocacy Committee