The state's new $4 million dollars effort is focused on kids. Recent serious illnesses associated with vaping are alarming state leaders and health experts.
The state's outreach program comes on the heels of news that there are now ten confirmed cases of severe pulmonary illnesses in young people connected to vaping in Ohio. Another 14 cases are being investigated. Nationally, there have been 450 cases and five deaths associated with the problem.
Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton says the state is providing schools, parents and students with information about the dangers of vaping, and free vaping cessation treatments. Acton says people between 16 and 26 are the ones hospitalized with vaping-related lung problems.
“In one year, vaping went up 78%, 78% in high schoolers and 48% in middle schoolers," Acton says.
But Ohio Vapor Trade Association President James Jarvis says the industry has supported efforts to keep its products out of the hands of children. And he is adamant that reputable dealers represented in his industry are about not selling to young people.
“We really think it’s coming from the internet. It’s pretty unrestricted on the internet. All you need is a debit card and an address," Jarvis says.
Ohio has a new law on the books that prohibits the sale of tobacco, including vaping products, to individuals under the age of 21. That new law takes effect on Oct. 17, 2019.
Jarvis says most people who are vaping are doing it as a way to stop smoking cigarettes. But major health leaders say it’s not completely safe, no matter how it is used.