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Attorney general announces Florida vaping investigation

CDC: 1,299 cases of lung injury tied to vaping reported across US

OVIEDO, Fla. – Ahead of a visit to Oviedo High School Wednesday regarding teen vaping, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced a statewide investigation into a vaping company doing business in the state.

Moody's announcement comes as federal health officials continue to investigate lung injuries and deaths associated with e-cigarette and vaping product use across the U.S.

Moody said in a previously recorded video the investigation will review marketing and selling practices targeting Florida youth within 20 vaping companies -- including two companies are in the Orlando area -- doing business in Florida. These shops include Creative Vape Labs and Monster Vape Labs.

"Our investigation will focus on the marketing practices and online sales strategies of these companies to determine if they have intentionally targeted minors, tempting them to vape, and will also seek information to determine if these companies can support their marketing and health claims," Moody said. "I commit to you, that we will get to the bottom of this issue so important to the future of Florida's youth."

A Florida Department of Health report released in April showed a 58% increase in e-cigarette use among Florida high school students between 2017 and 2018.

Moody held a news conference at Oviedo High School Wednesday afternoon. The attorney general was joined by law enforcement and education officials.

After speaking to teens, as well as school and state leaders over the summer, Moody said she's been  working to see if these companies are targeting minors.

"Companies that are selling products that can damage the developing brain need to be put on notice that our youth will be protected," said Moody. 

Two of those companies are here in Central Florida, including Creative Vape Laps, Inc/d/b/a Monster Vape Laps in Orlando and The Vaporatory, LLC in Altamonte Springs.

Moody said after recent deaths and teens getting sick from vaping, now it's time to go after companies who in some ways she said may be responsible.
 
"We are requesting information and looking at  what types of products the vaping companies are using online to verify age," said Moody.

There is no word how long the investigation might take. The attorney general said she'll be seeking penalties as appropriate.

There have been 1,299 cases of lung injury associated with the use of electronic cigarette or vaping products across the U.S. Sixty-eight of those cases are in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Moody said herself and school resource officers need to make the public aware of the vaping crisis.  

"I have spent the last four or five months traveling the state meeting with state leaders, the commissioner of education, I have met with local school superintendents, principals, coaches even parents and students," Moody said. "Many educators tell me the vaping epidemic is the worst thing that they have seen in their over 20-year educational career." 

Twenty-six deaths tied to vaping have been reported from 21 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"What we're concerned with right now is making sure that our young people are not targeted, that the marketing reflects the true nature of these products and that companies are acting responsibly when it comes to selling these products to ensure youth cannot get their hands on them," Moody said.

Oviedo High School senior Jade Barkett said her school has been working to prevent vaping among students.

"We have posters in every building tied to the non-vaping campaign, skits on our morning announcements that bring attention to the effects it can have on kids," Barkett said.

E-cigarette or vaping product use associated with lung injury is now called EVALI, according to the CDC.

Anyone with questions about the CDC's investigation into the lung injuries associated with use of electronic cigarette or vaping products can fill out this form or call 1-800-232-4636.


About the Authors:

Jerry Askin

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.

Emilee Speck

Emilee is a digital journalist for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com, where she writes about space and Central Florida news. Previously, Emilee was a space writer and web editor for the Orlando Sentinel and a producer at the Naples Daily News. Emilee is a Space Coast native and graduate of the University of North Florida journalism program.

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