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Florida poised to raise smoking, vaping age to 21

Legislation heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis for consideration

Tracking the vaping threat
Tracking the vaping threat

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida is poised to raise the minimum age for smoking and vaping to 21.

The state Senate on Thursday joined the House in approving a measure that would also ban the sale of vapored nicotine products used in so-called e-cigarettes. The legislation now heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis for consideration.

Health advocates said the measure is necessary to protect public health, particularly among young tobacco users.

While smoking among youth has been on the decline in recent years, vaping has surged. The rise has alarmed health advocates who worry about nicotine addiction and the stunting of brain development.

Vape shop operators have asserted that vaping is safer and helps wean smokers off cancer-causing cigarettes.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has joined other federal and public health agencies in investigating an outbreak of deaths and lung injuries that appear to be associated with e-cigarettes.

As of last month, more than 2,800 such cases have been reported across the United States and its territories in the Carribbean. The CDC said 68 deaths have been confirmed in 29 states and the District of Columbia.