- Ashley Moody to investigate Florida vaping companies
- Vaping has become an issue among teens
- Over 2 dozen related deaths reported
Vaping and the use of e-cigarettes is now being called an “epidemic.”
Just ask Plant High School senior Riley Schofner.
“You go into these restrooms and it’s like a carnival because you got your green apple, you got your cotton candy, and people are blowing smoke everywhere,” said Schofner, referring to the fruity, flavorful smells that can come from e-cigarettes.
“Every time you go into the bathroom, it’s almost shocking not to see a student in there hitting a JUUL,” he went on.
Many cities and states have issued bans on certain vaping products after more than two dozen deaths were reported.
On Wednesday, Moody spoke at Plant High and announced an investigation of over 20 vaping companies doing business in Florida, including JUUL.
The investigation is in regard to if the companies are marketing their products toward teenagers. This investigation comes on the heals of a recent report that shows a sharp spike in vaping among Florida high school students.
“We will focus on whether these companies intentionally targeted minors, whether their claims regarding health effects are based in reality, and whether they are using effective online age verification process,” Moody said.
That report released by the Florida Department of Health showed one in four high school students in the state admitted to vaping and two-thirds of young people didn’t even know there is nicotine in vaping products.
During the news conference, Moody said between 8 and 10 middle/high school kids say they have seen online ads for vaping.
Moody said she hopes this investigation reveals who the products were geared toward while preventing the next generation from having to deal with nicotine addiction.
“As a mother, l refuse to sit back and watch while our next generation becomes addicted to another nicotine product,” Moody said. “And as attorney general, I refuse to do so.”
Convenience stores a problem?
Gary Wilder, who owns Lizard Juice, a company that sells vaping products, told us in no uncertain terms that his company does not market to children.
“I created this store not for kids,” Wilder said. “Truth is, the store was created for people who were 20 and 30-year-old smokers.”
Wilder explained that he has strict age verification measures online and in his stores to make sure minors don’t get ahold of his products. He pointed out that the real problem is with convenience and corner stores, which he says often sells those products to children.
“They don’t go to an alcohol store,” Wilder said. “They go to a convenience store because it’s easier over there.”
Wilder did say he intends to cooperate with the attorney general’s investigation.
Moody stopped short of saying if any of the companies had been subpoenaed but did say she did ask those companies for information.
“Government must act quickly and with purpose and with urgency any time we see a rapid rise in anything that turns into an addiction,” Moody said. “I will not let companies play fast and loose with the precious lives of Florida youth.”
“We cannot sit back and let our children be targets for addicts.”