The Trump administration, no friend of government regulation, on Wednesday wisely signaled its willingness to ban flavored e-cigarettes.
Such is the seriousness of the health hazards of vaping that confront us.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 450 people in 33 states have developed serious respiratory illnesses after vaping. Kansas health officials on Tuesday confirmed the sixth U.S. death linked to vaping, which had been touted as a safer alternative to smoking.
In Ohio, the Department of Health on Thursday reported 13 recent cases of severe lung illnesses it believes are tied to vaping, and it is investigating 14 additional cases that could also be part of the nationwide outbreak. Two of the reported cases are in Summit County and one is in Portage County.
State and federal investigators have not yet been able to determine the precise cause of the outbreak, but they are racing to discover it.
The Washington Post reported last week that scientists from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have found vitamin E acetate, an oil derived from the vitamin, in samples collected from patients with the illness. Many, but not all, of the patients reported they had recently vaped products containing THC, a psychoactive component of cannabis.
Investigators, though, caution it is too early to know if the oil is the cause of the cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue and vomiting described by those afflicted.
But states, including Ohio, wisely are not waiting for the source to be determined.
On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Health reported it will spend $4.1 million over two years to educate the public about e-cigarettes and provide communities with resources they need to help limit their use.
The Columbus Dispatch reported Tuesday that Gov. Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio's health director, are focused on addressing the issue of vaping, especially among teens and young adults, whose still developing brains are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of nicotine and cannabis, and whose use of the products at an early age can lead to an unhealthy lifetime habit.
"The explosive increase in vaping among our youth is a public health crisis, and we must educate them and their parents about the dangers of vaping,” Acton said. "... Last year alone, we saw a 48% increase in vaping among middle schoolers and a 78% increase in vaping among high schoolers."
Some local schools aren't standing by until state funds are available.
Beacon Journal reporter Emily Mills wrote last week that the Revere Local School district already has installed vape detectors in its middle and high school as well as its field house, with Stow-Monroe Falls School District planning to install the detectors soon.
For teens, there is one other line of defense: parents.
Reporter Alan Ashworth provided in Sunday's Beacon Journal a primer for parents on vaping. It included what vape pens and other vaping devices look like, how they work, the substances used in them and, importantly, where teens who wish to quit can seek help.
The long-term effects of smoking — cancer, asthma, chronic lung and heart diseases and stroke — are well-known. That's not the case with vaping, a more recent addition to the available nicotine and THC delivery systems.
But the possible short-term consequences of vaping clearly are now before us.
So we must ask: Is it worth the risk?