According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the uptick in e-cigarette use has led overall tobacco use among young people to increase 38 percent from 2017 to 2018.
“20 percent of high schoolers, 5 percent of middle schoolers are now vaping and using tobacco products,” said Dr. Carrie Delone, medical director for Geisinger Holy Spirit Medical Group. “That is a significant increase from just 2017 when it was 12 percent.”
Delone says when the brain hasn’t fully developed, people are more prone to become addicted.
“These are times in a developing child’s life where they need to be protected because they are just much more susceptible to the dangers of long term addiction,” Delone said.
That’s why pharmacy giant Rite Aid announced Thursday it will cease the sale of all e-cigarette and vaping products in all 2,500 stores within 90 days. The chain will, however, continue selling traditional tobacco products.
“If you’re gonna sell one thing that is a hazard, why not just get rid of everything that’s a hazard?” asked customer Rhonda Mitchell.
According to Rite Aid, many customers still want the ability to purchase traditional tobacco products, but the company says it’s significantly reduced the visibility and footprint of their offering and expanded their smoking cessation category.
“I think taking the products off the market, making the products more difficult to obtain is always going to help,” Delone said. “I think we need to have those discussions with our children and discussions with adults.”
Not everyone agrees with the decision to remove vaping devices.
“It’s significantly cheaper. These devices, they’re making a good bang for their buck while helping people quit with nicotine in the vape juice,” said Jerimiah Graham.
Delone says current studies show it hasn’t helped people quit and says vaping is not a safer option.
“There are still a lot of chemicals that are harmful and because they are flavored, they are very attractive to young people,” Delone said.
Rite Aid says it will continue to enforce its chain-wide ID all policy and will continue evaluating its front-end offering to ensure it’s meeting both the needs and the expectations of its customers.