Where to draw the line on vaping

The risks of vaping are undeniable, but a proposal to rein in the sale of e-cigarette products in Chicago goes too far.

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This file photo taken on October 02, 2018 shows a man exhaling smoke from an electronic cigarette in Washington, DC. (

A man exhales smoke from an electronic cigarette.

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As one state legislator told us not long ago about vaping, “You’d have to be living under a rock not to realize the health risk we’re seeing.”

Since March 31, 1,299 cases of serious lung disease associated with e-cigarettes have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control. More than half of the illnesses — 54% — occurred in people under 25. 

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The risks of vaping are undeniable. So we appreciate the good intentions of Chicago Ald. Brendan Reilly’s proposal to rein in the sale of e-cigarette products, but he goes too far. So, too, does Ald. Ray Lopez, who would completely ban e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine products.

Reilly’s proposed ordinance would restrict customers at a store from buying more than two e-cigarettes and eight refill pods per day. Retailers would have to keep a sales log, noting buyers’ names and what they bought. 

Reilly told the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman that he wants to make it harder for adults to buy large quantities of vaping products and pass them along to kids. But what he’s proposing won’t work. Buyers would just go from store to store, like kids trick-or-treating.

Meanwhile, stores would have to maintain those bothersome sales logs.

Last month, we backed a better idea to help curb the epidemic of teen vaping: a statewide ban on flavored e-cigarettes designed to appeal to young people. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has proposed such a ban in Chicago.

Reilly has two other proposals that we like better. He would create an age verification process for online and retail sales of vaping products, and he would ban the sale of counterfeit products.

Most vaping-related lung illnesses reported to the CDC have been linked to black market e-cigarettes with THC, the chemical in cannabis that causes a high. But some cases of illness have been linked to nicotine e-cigarettes. Other research has found that even nicotine-free e-cigarettes can do damage to a person’s blood vessels.

Young people should not vape. And the CDC says adults should “consider” not vaping, though many do so to kick their cigarette habits.

We generally favor prohibitions on the sale of vaping products to minors, while knowing there’s much more research to be done as to the dangers.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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