By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Public Affairs Director
CDC Reports Surge in Vaping-Related Illness
Vaping has become a national health issue on Capitol Hill. With more teens than ever using the devices, along with reports connecting lung injury and respiratory illness with vaping, policymakers are eager to understand the problem and act swiftly. Part of the problem includes the high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol and nicotine in vaping products. Congress is working to address the problem through several legislative bills, but few are moving as fast as the public health impact seen in news reports.
With cases of suspected vaping illnesses skyrocketing, the industry is under fire. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are changing their policies for vaping, and public sentiment has shifted. ONS and its partners continue to stand up to Big Tobacco and are championing a tighter grip on vaping access and marketing, especially to minors. Change is imminent, but what it looks like has yet to be determined.
ONS Member Oppegaard Shares Capitol Hill Days Experience
Almost immediately after returning from her experiences in Washington, DC, for ONS’s annual Capitol Hill Days, ONS member and member of the San Francisco Bay Area ONS Chapter, Kate Oppegaard, RN, BSN, OCN®, CMSRN, offered her perspective on the importance of being a nurse and using her voice to advocate for the important issues.
Two days of education and advocacy gave her the knowledge, skills, and confidence to take some powerful steps for activism: she is planning additional work to help her ONS chapter boost its health policy initiatives and be a valued resource for other nurses who are interested in educating their elected officials on important healthcare issues. Oppegaard and other nurses who learned about advocacy at Hill Days are lending their voices to ONS’s message to policymakers at every level of U.S. government.
California Officials Call For End to Vaping
Throughout 2019, many officials and policymakers have done an about-face on their vaping stance. Once hailed as a smoking cessation option, news about deaths, illness, and the growing youth vaping epidemic have turned the spotlight against the industry, igniting a bipartisan passion for action to restrict the devices. States and localities are moving even faster than the federal government with legislation aimed at reducing vaping, underage use, and public consumption. California is just one of several states to put heavy restrictions on vaping, and the state’s health officials are encouraging those who still vape to quit now.
ONS held its annual Capitol Hill Days advocacy event from September 22–24, 2019, and one of the bills ONS advocates promoted targeted vaping use. Days after nurses stormed the Hill, more legislators signed on as cosponsors. ONS and oncology nurses in action see results. Join your voice to the advocacy effort today.