Raising Utah’s nicotine limit poses health risks to children, says Drug Safe Utah

Jul 13, 2023, 2:00 PM | Updated: Jul 14, 2023, 9:14 am

E-cigarettes are pictured on a shelf. According to the CDC, 14% of young people in the United State...

FILE - E-cigarettes are small and do not smell like traditional cigarettes, making it easy for children to take them to school or hide them from their parents. (Mike DeBernardo/Deseret News)

(Mike DeBernardo/Deseret News)

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect that when a small Juul pod is filled with 5% nicotine, it contains the same amount of nicotine as one pack of cigarettes. The story previously said the pod contained the same amount of nicotine as a single cigarette, which is incorrect.

SALT LAKE CITY — According to the CDC, 14% of young people in the United States are vaping. To keep that number from growing, a group is fighting to make sure Utah’s nicotine limit does not get raised. 

Why raise Utah’s nicotine limit?

According to the Utah State Bulletin, a publication of the Utah Office of Administrative Rules, a proposed change to Utah’s nicotine content cap (from 3% to 5%) is intended to better align with the FDA’s Premarket Tobacco Product Application (PMTA) process. The PMTA process is meant to ensure that new products, such as vapes, are in compliance with FDA standards for products containing nicotine. 

The bulletin says that the FDA requires “a showing that permitting the marketing of a new product would have a net benefit to public health, based upon the risks and benefits to the population as a whole, which includes youth, young adults, and other vulnerable populations.” 

A benefit of raising the nicotine level of vaping products, according to the Bulletin, could be that the product helps adult users quit using products containing more nicotine, such as cigarettes. 

Impacts on children

Gayle Ruzicka,  president of the Utah Eagle Forum, and a board member for Drug Safe Utah said that raising the nicotine limit could be harmful to children.

“We’re trying to get this message out that children are overwhelmingly vaping across this nation,” said Ruzicka. 

She said that they are urging the health department not to raise Utah’s nicotine limit to 5%. “That’s 67% more nicotine,” she said. Utah has capped nicotine content at 3%. 

Juul pods are an inch tall and two-thirds of an inch wide. According to Ruzicka, when the small pod is filled with 5% nicotine, it contains the same amount of nicotine as one pack of cigarettes.

Why kids vape, and what it does to their bodies

According to The Journal of Medical Internet Research, stress relief and social pressure are factors that influence youth to vape. 

The journal said that youth choose vaping for the flavor and the ability to vape discreetly. Vapes and e-cigarettes produce a more pleasant smell. The journal also said that youth may choose vapes because they are newer than cigarettes. 

Nicotine has dangerous effects on the developing brain and lungs of children who use it. According to the National Library of Medicine, nicotine use by adolescents increases the chance of psychiatric disorders in later life. 

According to the CDC, nicotine can change the way the brain forms synapses. That can make children more likely to become addicted to nicotine more quickly. 

Finally, the CDC said nicotine is one of the most difficult addictions to overcome. Each time a user ingests nicotine, it triggers the brain to release chemicals that make them feel good. Over time, the brain becomes dependent. 

Benefits of lower nicotine limit

Ruzicka said that of all fifty states, Utah has the lowest number of children addicted to nicotine. She said the low rate of nicotine use is partially due to the state’s low nicotine limit. 

“When we went to the 3% we (started seeing) those levels of children using and being addicted to vaping had gone down,” said Ruzicka. The more nicotine a vape contains, the more addictive it is, she added. 

To find more information on children, vaping, and Drug Safe Utah’s effort to keep the nicotine limit low, visit


Related reading: 






We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


The Foundation’s 38-foot RV, customized with two private exam rooms, will travel around the count...


Free skin cancer screening program visits Park City

Local dermatologists will provide free full-body skin cancer screenings in Park City in an RV meant just to check patients.

7 hours ago

Johnson & Johnson brand baby powder, one of several products at the center of lawsuits against the ...

Kyle Remund

State of Utah reaches settlement with Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson will be giving Utah and many other states a massive payout due to deceptive marketing practices for talc-based products.

3 days ago


Heather Peterson

Program connects those who struggle with mental health to employers

SALT LAKE CITY — A sector of Utah’s Department of Health and Human Services is connecting those who struggle with mental illnesses with employers, to aid in their recovery. With Individual Placement and Support (IPS) offices across the state, they help those who have suffered from mental health crises or a co-occurring substance use disorder, […]

4 days ago

Orem resident Georgia Burt Presnell celebrated her 105th birthday on Friday. (Emma Everett Johnson)...

Emma Everett Johnson,

Orem resident turns 105, has some advice for young people

"I don't feel 105, but I look it," she joked, addressing a crowd of family and friends who were there to celebrate her.

7 days ago

Adam Benicosa next to his mail truck...

Jessica Lowell

Mailman considered a hero after helping a woman who fell

A Roy mailman is being considered a mailman hero after helping a woman who fell while attempting to pull a weed in her yard.

8 days ago

Twenty-three-year-old Brigham Young University student Jack Walker, has been active his entire life...

Britt Johnson

“Diving intervention”: BYU student survives, recovers after suffering heart attack at marathon

A 23-year-old BYU student suffered a heart attack this weekend at the Utah Valley Marathon. He called his survival "divine intervention"

9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Raising Utah’s nicotine limit poses health risks to children, says Drug Safe Utah