MANATEE COUNTY- The FDA has declared youth vaping an “epidemic” and says they plan to crack down on manufacturers and retailers not doing enough to keep the devices out of the hands of teens.
With E-Cigarettes designed to look like USB Drives and coming in a variety of fun flavors. The Florida Department of Health says it’s no surprise teens are becoming addicted to e-cigarettes.
“The increase since 2010 has been over 400%,” Tima Midyette said. “So you can see just a real sharp increase that we’re working toward prevention.”
Tobacco Prevention Specialist Tima Midyette says E-cigarettes may have eliminated smoke, but they still have large amounts of nicotine.
“Nicotine is dangerous,” Midyette said. “It’s a dangerous chemical, and with youth it harms their brain development, so it’s a really important distinction.”
Nicotine use in teens can lead to mood disorders and permanent loss of impulse control. Midyette says the “epidemic” declaration from the FDA can help make more people aware of the dangers.
“It gives us credibility to the work that we’re already doing,” Midyette said. “And it helps us with reducing the amount of use we’re seeing in our community.”
They try to reach teens through education programs and SWAT clubs, or students working against tobacco.
“We’re currently in 10 different schools,” Midyette said. “So there’s clubs in all these schools that help peer to peer, to help reduce tobacco use and e-cig use.”
The “epidemic” declaration could mean more money for prevention and education efforts.
“We’re not sure at this point,” Midyette said. “But we do know that they are going to step up their compliance efforts in the industry, which is helpful.”
Especially when it comes to online sales. The FDA says they will be investigating the marketing and sales practices of products most used by teens and are asking the manufacturers to evaluate their practices as well.