Vape-related deaths prompting legislation, comparisons to tobacco deaths

Local News

TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – State Rep. Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa) joined Hillsborough County school board members at Tampa General Hospital on Thursday to discuss a proposal hoping to stop vaping among kids.

After a sixth vaping-related death was reported in Kansas on Wednesday, even President Donald Trump called for a ban on thousands of e-cigarette flavors. 

As of Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported six deaths and more than 450 possible cases of severe lung injury in 33 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

According to the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida – which is part of the Department of Health, nearly 25 percent of Florida high school students reported they used vaping devices in 2018. That’s a 58 percent increase compared to 2017.

While vaping use among Florida teens is increasing, there are still more adults smoking cigarettes.

E-cigarette use

Check out the increase of E-cigarette use among Florida teens between 2016 and 2018. Hover over the bar to see the exact percentage number.

Source: Tobacco Free Florida

A Sarasota family filed a lawsuit this summer against e-cigarette company JUUL Labs Inc., for exploiting adolescents and getting them hooked on the aerosol devices that deliver a more powerful hit of nicotine than cigarettes.

But the family wasn’t the first to file a lawsuit about the e-cigarette company.

A South Florida mother filed a lawsuit in Oct. 2018 because her 15-year-old son was addicted to the product and vaped up to 12 times a day.

Data shows 16.1 percent of adults smoked cigarettes in 2017. Meanwhile, 4.3 percent of adults used e-cigarettes.

E-cigarette and cigarette use in Florida

Below are the percentages of cigarette and e-cigarette users among Florida’s adult population in 2017. Hover over the bar to see the exact percentage number.

Source: Truth Initiative

The amount of vaping-related deaths compared to cigarette deaths is what has been catching the eyes of many 8 On Your Side viewers and social media followers.

Many viewers were correct in saying that there are significantly more cigarette-related deaths.

According to the CDC, the United States has approximately 480,317 cigarette-smoking related deaths annually. The Florida Department of Health says that 28,600 adults in Florida die from smoking every year. 

However, many people are unaware that one of the most recognizable tobacco companies has a stake in one of the more popular brands of e-cigarettes.

In Dec. 2018, Marlboro cigarette maker Altria purchased a 35 percent stake in JUUL for $12.8 billion.

The American Medical Association released a statement Monday urging the public to stop using e-cigarettes. The statement said, in part, “the AMA urges the public to avoid the use of e-cigarette products until health officials further investigate and understand the cause of these illnesses.”

Rep. Toledo announced Thursday she’s filing a bill to raise the legal age to purchase vaping and tobacco products to 21. Doctors with Tampa General Hospital weighed in at the news conference.

“Really the safest thing is probably to avoid vaping and if it is what you are using as a nicotine replacement rather than smoking cigarettes, my recommendation is to look at other nicotine replacement strategies such as gum, patches, etc.,” Dr. David Wein said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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