Texas vaping advocates protest at state Capitol in response to call for ban


AUSTIN (KXAN) — As vaping has been linked to a string of lung illnesses and deaths around the country, U.S. health officials have urged people to stop using e-cigarettes until they can figure out why.

Last week, President Donald Trump’s administration moved to ban flavored e-cigarettes, according to a report by NBC News.

The American Vaping Association called this move “draconian” and says it will spur ex-smokers to take up smoking tobacco products if this ban went into effect. Some Texas vape business owners, employees and advocates converged on the state Capitol Monday to tell Gov. Greg Abbott they agreed with AVA.

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The group held up signs that talked about how long they smoked cigarettes and what flavor of e-cigarettes helped them quit. With chants and signs, they said they aimed to bring awareness to the proposed vape ban.

Steven Coleman, a vape shop owner from Marble Falls who smoked cigarettes for 23 years, told KXAN he started vaping six years ago.

“Vaping has literally saved my life,” Coleman said, and he now tries to help others quit cigarettes as well.

“Once a day we get somebody come in who is desperate to quit smoking cigarettes and we’re able to coach them and show them the methods we use … to help them be successful,” Coleman said.

Char Owen, an advocate for vaping who doesn’t currently vape, quit smoking more than 19 years ago. She told KXAN she lost her father to lung cancer.

“For me, it’s heartfelt,” she said. Of the vape shop owners, she said, “these guys save lives every day. (They) are making a huge impact.”

Owens worries if a ban is put in place, those who vape will slide back into cigarette use, but she is not against regulation. She believes the FDA can “put forth regulations that will actually keep these guys in business and also protect the general public.”

While the Centers for Disease Control says it doesn’t know yet what exactly is causing the lung illnesses, it recommends teens and adults refrain from vaping until officials know more.

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