Lawmakers join CPS CEO to introduce new vaping legislation

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Local and federal officials gathered Friday morning to announce new federal legislation meant to prevent and discourage youth vaping.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL; Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-IL, and Danny Davis, D-IL; and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson spoke at Jones College Prep High School in Chicago's South Loop with a suburban mother whose daughter likely suffered from a vaping-related illness and a CPS student.

Durbin spoke to the pervasiveness of the vaping epidemic and how children are addicted to nicotine, partially because e-cigarette companies targeted them.

RELATED: CDC: 1 in 3 high schoolers uses tobacco product, 1 in 8 middle schoolers

Next week, the lawmakers will be introducing a bill to help schools across the country combat the issue. The "Prevent Act" establishes a new user fee under the Food and Drug Administration, and directs those funds to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop prevention programs to decrease the use of e-cigarettes on school grounds, according to a news release.

The bill awards grants to state and local health agencies and nonprofits to carry out such prevention programs, and requires these programs to provide resources to empower youth to communicate with their peers on the dangers of nicotine addiction, provide resources and tools for school personnel to identify and prevent youth use and launch social media and marketing campaigns to educate students on the health risks of e-cigarette use.

"Make no mistake, e-cigarette companies like Juul target children, while the Food and Drug Administration has done much less than it should have done," Durbin said.

He said schools are currently using valuable resources of their own to help their struggling students.

The CPS CEO said she appreciated local lawmakers' attention to the issue.

RELATED: Illinois attorney general files lawsuit against Juul

New Lenox mother Ruby Johnson spoke of her daughter's near-death experience, likely as a result of vaping.

"She cried to her nurse, 'I can't take a deep breath. It feels like my lungs are on fire,'" Johnson previously told ABC7.
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