FDA: teenage vaping an ‘epidemic’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on vaping and e-cigarette policies, saying teenage vaping is an “epidemic” in the United States.

It’s the largest coordinated enforcement in the FDA’s history. The association issued 1,300 warning letters and fines to companies illegally selling e-cigarette products to minors.

None of those fines were given to retailers in Wisconsin.

At stores like Vapin USA in Green Bay, that’s the goal.

“[Employees] check for fake IDs, they know all the ways to look for that. And if they are under 18 or they don't have their ID, they have to immediately leave the store,” says Allison Vandeveld, Director of Operations at Vapin USA.

Vandeveld says anyone under 18 isn’t allowed in the store, even if they’re accompanied by an adult. She says anyone who appears under 35-years-old is ID’d.

But that hasn’t stopped more than 2 million middle and high schoolers from vaping in 2017, according to the FDA.

In a statement, the Food and Drug Administration said, “The developing adolescent brain is particularly vulnerable to addiction.”

Vandeveld says some kids are drawn to misbehaving.

“Anything that's a taboo children are going to like regardless,” she explains.

In fact, Vandeveld believes vaping is a good alternative for adults who are hoping to quit smoking.

“I think it's blown out of proportion,” she explains. “They think that juuling or vaping is this big epidemic, but it really isn't. It's helping adults quit smoking.”

A study by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine says compared to traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes reduce the exposure of potentially harmful chemicals, all except for nicotine.

As for vaping products made specifically for children, Vandeveld says that’s not the case.

“I know there's a big issue with flavors marketing to children, but adults like flavors too. I'm going to be 34 tomorrow, I love all different types of flavors,” she says.