By Kelsey Kushner

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Members of the E-Facts Task Force met Thursday to discuss the FDA’s recent decision to ban most mint and fruit-flavored vaping products after dozens of Marylanders have been sickened from electronic cigarettes.

New numbers from the CDC show at least 100 people have been hospitalized for vaping-related illnesses since last month.

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Thursday, the task force said they need a plan to bring that number to a halt.


The group is led by Maryland State Comptroller Peter Franchot, and they said they are committed to taking on the challenge to end the crisis in the state.

“The real problem is the highly addictive nature of nicotine and the fact that kids are not using it as advertised, which is to get off smoking. Instead, it is a gateway to get on smoking,” Franchot said.

Inside the Anne Arundel Community College on Thursday, elected officials, public health experts, students and business owners met and spoke out about the FDA’s recent decision to ban only some mint and fruit-flavored vaping products.

State Senator Bill Kramer said they need all flavored products banned to help end the crisis.

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“It’s a national epidemic,” Kramer said. “This has found its way into middle schoolers and children.”

According to the CDC, more than 2,600 people across the nation have been hospitalized with illnesses related to vaping. And as of mid-December, 47 people were hospitalized in Maryland alone.

In an exclusive interview with WJZ’s Nicole Baker last year, J.R. said vaping almost killed him.

“I can’t take a deep breath when I first wake up, all I feel is tearing in my lungs.”

Public health officials said the main culprit is Vitamin E acetate, which is found in some vaping products.

The task force said it is up to them to make sure they stay out of the hands of teenagers.

“This industry has prayed upon our children and it’s time to push back and say no more.” State Sen. Kramer said.

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The next meeting is on January 27 at Johns Hopkins. The task force said this will be their first session and they plan to put together legislation to present to the state.

Kelsey Kushner