‘It’s an epidemic:’ Officials race to ban flavored e-cigarettes after hundreds sick, 6 killed

‘It’s an epidemic:’ Officials race to ban flavored e-cigarettes after hundreds sick, 6 killed

CHESTERFIELD CO., Va. (WWBT) - It was a big announcement Wednesday by the Trump Administration aimed at stopping teens from vaping. There’s a plan to ban flavored e-cigarettes within the next 30 days.

“I think this is a public health crisis for our younger generation,” Regina Whisett said.

Whitsett has been fighting for years to ban e-cigarettes.

Hundreds of people have become sick with a mysterious lung disease and at least six people have died across the country.

Officials are still trying to figure out the illnesses but many believe THC oils and cartridges bought off the street could be a cause.

“There’s the popcorn lung or the cauliflower lung, and that’s what people get when vaping or holding that vapor in,” Whitsett said.

Whitsett is the Executive Director of SAFE which stands for Substance Abuse Free Environment.

She says the new 'vaping devices' are targeting a specific audience.

“I think their flavors like cherry, strawberry or banana is geared toward the youth usage,” Whitsett said.

The Trump Administration wants to ban flavored e-cigarettes as top health officials grow more alarmed in what they say is a surge in underage vaping.

In Chesterfield, a recent survey of students showed most did not smoke but one grade level stood out.

“We did find in data that seniors are using it at a rate 31% higher than the national norm,” Whitsett said.

Do you know what the devices look like?

“If you were to walk into your child’s room and see the JUUL pod plugged into the computer could you spot it? I, as a parent, would think it was a flash drive my child was using for school,” Whitsett said.

They are blending in as ordinary items. Hidden in plain sight.

“They have earrings, jewelry necklaces, they have hoodies where they can stuff the device,” Whitsett said.

Studies show one JUUL Pod is the equivalent of smoking an entire pack of cigarette.

The SAFE organization is holding a seminar for parents Thursday evening. For more information click here.

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