Vaping disease epidemic has Illinois advocates, lawmakers considering possible ban

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A number of serious illnesses believed to be connected to vaping, including one death in Illinois, has state lawmakers and health officials looking to see what can be done to keep young people safe.

Health officials across the country are battling a vaping epidemic that primarily seems to affect patients in their late teens and 20s. The Chicago Department of Public Health said it has seen a dramatic rise in e-cigarette use by young people.

"When we hear about kids trying vaping, we hear about them often trying flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy and gummy bear," said Allison Arwady, MD, acting commissioner of CDPH. "These are flavors marketed to youth."

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Michigan became the first state to ban both online and in-store sales of flavored e-cigarettes Wednesday.

Illinois State Senator Julie Morrison commended Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for taking action, and called on Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and state lawmakers to do the same to protect teens and young adults.

Pritzker's spokeswoman released a statement, saying, "The Governor has convened a working group of medical and legal experts to study the scientific evidence so they can develop long-term solutions to keep Illinoisans safe and healthy. So far, this administration has worked with the General Assembly to raise the smoking age to 21 and made e-cigarettes and vaping much more difficult for young people to get their hands on."

Kristen Young, executive director of the American Lung Association, said parents need to educate themselves about vaping and talk with their kids about the dangers.

"The first thing to ask them is do they know about it," Young said. "Are they using the product? Do they know the harmful effects of it and putting anything in your lungs other than clean, fresh air can lead to lung issues down the line."

The American Vaping Association is planning to support legal action against the state of Michigan. They believe the ban will hurt small businesses and create a black market for flavored e-cigarettes.
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