Benjamin M. Gies

For the first time in more than a year, the Food and Drug Administration got a permanent leader when Dr. Robert Califf was sworn in last month. He comes into office with a long – and critically important – to-do list. At the top of that list should be keeping harmful vaping products away from our kids and off the market.

The FDA is currently six months past its deadline for evaluating the dangerous effects of vapes and e-cigarettes. It’s critical for students in Kentucky and across the country that Califf quickly ban companies like Juul that have a record of preying on middle and high school students.

Taking concrete steps to save lives can’t come soon enough.

Kentucky still has one of the highest smoking rates in the nation. Our rates of cancer are tragic and show little sign of improvement. Each year, nearly 9,000 Kentucky adults die from tobacco use.

The advent of vaping products took this problem and made it a whole lot worse. Even with new laws at the state and federal level that have raised the tobacco purchase age to 21, young people are getting hooked on vaping products and setting themselves up for a lifetime of addiction and health challenges.

Dr.  Robert Califf is commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Last year’s National Youth Tobacco Survey showed over 40% of current high schoolers who vape used a device on at least 20 of the last 30 days. Kentucky leads every other state surveyed in the number of middle schoolers who report using tobacco. These nicotine-packed products alter a child’s brain chemistry and set them up for a lifetime of dependence and the chronic health consequences that come with it.

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