“They ought to be ashamed of themselves,” Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) told YFi AM.
“They have hooked teenagers. Clearly when you put flavors in, you're focusing on young people. You're not focusing on adults,” she continued.
The death toll from vaping-related illnesses has risen to 12, after both Florida and Georgia reported fatalities from lung disease resembling a rare form of pneumonia. As of Sept. 24, 2019, the epidemic has spread across 46 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with the number of confirmed or probable cases steadily increasing to 805, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“These companies are responsible for this epidemic. And we must stop them. But more importantly, we have to convince a generation of young people that this is dangerous,” Shalala says.
“We've made real efforts to get kids to stop smoking cigarettes. And now the tobacco companies have pivoted and are attacking our kids again,” she continues.
Youth Tobacco Bill
Shalala and Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone introduced the “Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019” back in April. The bill aims to raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21, ban flavors, and restrict advertising.
“It basically creates the same kinds of rules that we have now for tobacco. Vaping — a quarter of all of the 12th graders are vaping now. They have no idea of the effects of this,” Shalala says.
“We will pass a bill by the end of the year. But we need every state, every school district, every parent to focus on this issue to prevent young people from getting hooked,” she adds.
McKenzie DeGroot is a producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @degrootmckenzie