On September 12, 2018, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb declared youth vaping an “epidemic.” Gottlieb stated that the FDA is reconsidering their overall approach after a review of preliminary data on youth vaping. “Teenagers are becoming regular users, and the proportion of regular users is increasing,” says Gottlieb, a physician. “We’re going to have to take action.”
In Florida, youth tobacco use remains a serious problem! Findings from the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey suggest that approximately half of high school students (46%) and one in four middle school students (20%) report ever trying a tobacco product. Among youth ages 11-17, e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product (25% report ever using). Half (50%) of youth report being exposed to secondhand smoke from cigarettes or vapor smoke from e-cigarettes.
In St. Johns County, the problem remains as well! Findings from the 2016 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey suggest that one in three (33%) youth aged 11-17 in our county report ever trying a tobacco product. E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among local youth and 25% report ever using them. Half (50%) of local youth report being exposed to secondhand smoke from cigarettes or vapor smoke from e-cigarettes. From 2012 to 2016, youth currently using electronic vaping devices has increased 350% in St. Johns County. Local school district administration has expressed concern as they continue to deal with the ramifications of the vaping epidemic.
The issue is youth access! Why are so many kids able to obtain tobacco or nicotine products when the law says otherwise? Florida does not require a business license to sell these addictive vaping products. Because there is no business license, there is no accountability that prevents retailers from selling to minors. Lack of a business license also restricts law enforcement from doing compliance checks at vape stores.
Local control is needed and ALL local retailers of tobacco and nicotine need to be identified with a local licensing system. Let’s prevent another generation of tobacco and nicotine addicts!
Tobacco Free St. Johns (TFSJ) is a community partnership of adults and youth working together to prevent youth tobacco and nicotine use and youth exposure to secondhand smoke. “We are working to promote a tobacco-free atmosphere for St. Johns County residents and to improve the health of its residents. We work to accomplish this through tobacco prevention, education, cessation and policy promotion. TFSJ also supports legislative action to reduce tobacco use and exposure,” according to partnership Chairman Francesco Manfredi.