Democratic Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is shifting her focus to e-cigarettes, looking to stop what her office reports is an “alarming rise in e-cigarette use among youth.”
This weekend, The Democratic Rep. joined Senator Richard Blumenthal to introduce the “Preventing Opportunities for Teen E-Cigarette and Tobacco Addiction (PROTECT) Act.”
With the Act, $100 million would be directed annually over five years for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to continue their research and offer state and local governments grants to ensure teens are not using e-cigarettes.
Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s office explained that “more than 3.6 million youth report using e-cigarettes, including 1 in 5 high school students, and 1 in 20 middle school students, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey.”
The office added that “the rate of e-cigarette use among teens has grown dramatically with up to 37 percent of 12th graders reporting use in the past year, compared to 28 percent in 2017.”
The office concluded that “this dramatic surge has alarmed public health officials, leading the U.S. Surgeon General to call the rise an ‘epidemic.’”
Rep. Wasserman Schultz also commented on the issue, describing that “e-cigarette companies are explicitly targeting young people through their marketing and product design, but what they’re really selling is a nicotine addiction and other risks associated with vaping.”
She also expressed that “as the mother of three teenagers, I know that we cannot wait to address this epidemic. While the FDA has moved to combat the sale of e-cigarettes to youth, more work needs to be done to protect young people from the predatory practices of the tobacco industry.”
The bill has gained 10 cosponsors, which include Wasserman Schultz’s fellow Democratic Congressmen Ted Deutch and Alcee Hastings. In addition, it has also received the support of various organizations like the American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee received the bill last week.