UTAH

 

TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION 101: UTAH

January 27, 2020

Key Points: 

  • Utah’s vaping industry provided more than $154 million in economic activity in 2018 while generating 880 direct vaping-related jobs. Sales of disposables and prefilled cartridges in Utah exceeded $6.5 million in 2016.

  • As of January 6, 2020, UDH has reported 127 cases of vaping-related lung illnesses, including one death. UDH notes that 89 percent of patients report vaping THC. UDH earns an A for its transparency on vaping-related lung illnesses.  

  • In 2017, only 9.7 percent of Utah high school students reported using an e-cigarette on at least one day, in the 30 days prior. There is no information on frequent and/or daily use. More data is needed.   

  • Only 2 percent of FDA retail compliance checks in Utah resulted in sales of e-cigarettes to minors from January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019.

  • Utah spends very little on tobacco prevention. In 2019, Utah dedicated only $7 million to tobacco control programs including education and prevention, or less than 4 percent of what the state received in tobacco settlement payments and taxes.

UTAH DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH LINKS MORE THAN 90 PERCENT OF VAPING HOSPITALIZATIONS TO THC, STILL RESTRICTS ACCESS TO TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION PRODUCTS

October 16, 2019
  • UDOH has reported one death of a person the age of 30. UDOH “determined the individual vaped THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) prior to their death.”

  • In its investigation of adverse health effects related to e-cigarette use, UDOH has “reported 76 cases of vaping-related lung injuries.” UDOH officials note 94 percent of patients “self-reported vaping THC products.”

  • Other state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are consistently linking recent vaping-related hospitalizations to the use of unregulated, illegal vaping devices containing THC.

    • Minnesota, Oregon, Texas, and Wisconsin have all linked recent vaping-related lung illnesses to the use of THC vaping devices.

    • On October 3, CDC noted 78 percent of patients “reported using THC-containing products, with or without nicotine-containing products.”

  • The Utah Public Health Laboratory has tested 39 vaping devices, including 19 THC cartridges, and 20 vaping products containing nicotine.

    • According to its findings, 100 percent of the nicotine-containing devices “contained nicotine and none have shown unexpected compounds.

    • On the other hand, 90 percent of “the THC cartridges contained Vitamin E acetate.

  • UDOH issued an emergency rule on October 2, restricting the sales of flavored e-cigarette products.

    • Beginning October 7, Utah e-cigarette and tobacco retailers “shall display a mandatory warning sign, warning sign, warning consumers not to use electronic-cigarette products to consume unregulated THC electronic-cigarette substances.”

    • Further, only “retail tobacco specialty businesses with a valid retail tobacco specialty permit” are allowed to sell flavored e-cigarettes and vaping devices. General retailers, including convenience stores, may still sell “non-flavored electronic-cigarette products.”

    • The emergency rule is in place for 120 days.

  • Flavors are essential for e-cigarettes. Indeed, a 2018 survey of nearly 70,000 American adults who use e-cigarettes and vaping devices found 83.2 and 72.3 percent reported vaping fruit and dessert flavors, respectively. Moreover, only 20 percent of respondents reported using tobacco flavors at the point of e-cigarette initiation.

  • Moreover, many health groups, including UDOH, are linking recent hospitalizations to black-market THC brands.

  • One way Utah could address youth e-cigarette use is by dedicating additional funding towards tobacco control programs. From 1999 and 2019, Utah has received an estimated $710.2 million in Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) payments. Despite receiving an estimated $141.9 million in MSA payments and taxes in 2019, Utah dedicated only $7.0 million, or 0.04 percent, of state funds toward tobacco control programs including education and prevention.

MORE STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENTS LINK RECENT VAPING-HOSPITALIZATIONS TO THC

September 24, 2019
  • Lindsey Stroud examines additional health department findings which linked recent vaping-related hospitalizations to the use of vaping devices containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

  • As of September 16, the Utah Department of Health noted 60 percent of individuals “self-reported vaping nicotine” and 90 percent “self-reported vaping THC.”

  • As of September 19, the Connecticut Department of Public Health had “interviewed 9 of the 13 patients with vaping-related injury.” All nine patients reported using THC products.

  • These recent findings mimic earlier findings. The Oregon Health Authority reported an individual who died in July 2019 “had recently used an e-cigarette or vaping device containing cannabis. The Minnesota Department of Health reported an individual died from a “lung injury [that] was associated with vaping illicit THC products.

  • In late August 2019, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services noted 89 percent of patients “reported using e-cigarettes or other vaping devices to inhale THC products, such as waxes and oils.”

  • The vast majority of vaping devices sold in convenience stores and vape shops are regulated.

  • In 2016, FDA issued deeming regulations that extended the agency’s authority over e-cigarettes and vaping devices.

    • Since 2016, all e-cigarette products must complete a lengthy and expensive process known as a “premarket tobacco product application.”

    • Additionally, FDA required all e-cigarette products be registered with the agency by December 31, 2016.

  • As more states link vaping-related hospitalizations to the use of unregulated THC-cartridges, it is disingenuous and counterproductive for lawmakers to place restrictions and/or bans on products that have helped an estimated three million Americans quit smoking.

  • E-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and twice as effective as traditional nicotine replacement therapy.

UTAH’S PROPOSED E-CIGARETTE TAX WILL SNUFF OUT HARM REDUCTION

February 19, 2019
  • Recently introduced legislation would apply an 86.5 percent tax on e-cigarettes and vaping products.

  • The legislation’s author intends to put “the price point up” to make it difficult for youth to purchase e-cigarettes.

  • Less than 10 percent of the funds that would be generated by the proposed tax would go toward tobacco prevention and education, and more than 90 percent of the expected revenue is earmarked to the state’s General Fund.

  • Electronic cigarettes are tobacco harm reduction products that heat a solution of water, nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and a flavoring to produce a vapor that is less harmful than the smoke produced by the 7,000 chemicals contained in combustible cigarettes.

  • Numerous public health groups have determined e-cigarettes are much less harmful than combustible tobacco products.

  • These are consistent with findings from public health organizations in the United Kingdom.

  • An analysis that estimated the potential benefits that would occur if all current Medicaid recipients who use combustible tobacco were to switch to e-cigarettes found that Medicaid savings could have amounted to $48 billion in 2012.

  • A smaller study found Medicaid savings “would be approximately $2.8 billion per 1 percent of [Medicaid] enrollees” over the next 25 years.

  • The proposed legislation would negatively impact Utah’s 263 vape shops. After Pennsylvania passed a 40 percent wholesale tax on e-cigarettes in 2016, an estimated 120 vape shops closed.

  • While the legislation is aimed at addressing youth vaping, it fails to recognize the wealth of data on youth purchases that show youth vaping is not a significant problem.

  • According to data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, compliance checks in Utah from 2016 and 2017 show in 2,630 compliance checks, only 115 businesses were in violation of selling a tobacco product to a minor, and the majority of those businesses are convenience stores, not vape shops.

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©2020 by Tobacco Harm Reduction 101.