Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Hillsborough

Hillsborough commissioners consider new restrictions on teen use of vaping products

The board asked county staff to bring back proposals. One commissioner termed the vaping phenomenon a "serious public health issue.''
A high school student in Massachusetts uses a vaping device near a school campus last year. In Hillsborough County, officials are considering new restrictions on teen use of vaping devices,
A high school student in Massachusetts uses a vaping device near a school campus last year. In Hillsborough County, officials are considering new restrictions on teen use of vaping devices,
Published Sep. 5, 2019

TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners agreed Thursday to consider new restrictions on the purchase of vaping products by underage users.

The board voted unanimously to support Commissioner Sandy Murman’s request to have the county’s legal staff bring back a list of vaping restrictions that could be written into county ordinances. If that support remains, and the commission does pass age-based vape restrictions, Hillsborough County would become the first local government in Florida to do so.

“I just want us to have a more robust discussion and see as many good ideas as possible on how we could work with the Sheriff’s office to correct what I think is a serious public health issue,” Murman told the board Thursday.

Users of E-cigarettes inhale the aerosol from a heated liquid that contains nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals. But the popularity of sweet, kid-friendly flavors such as bubble gum, fruit loops and cotton candy have put the industry under increasing scrutiny for marketing the potentially addictive and harmful products to teenagers.

Those concerns have been bolstered in recent months by reports linking serious illnesses and at least one death to vaping. Patients reported symptoms that included coughing, shortness of breath or chest pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

The Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced last week they are investigating 215 cases of lung disease associated with vaping, and the U.S. Surgeon General recently declared e-cigarette use among youth a “public health epidemic.”

And on Wednesday, as Murman was preparing to float her proposal at the County Commission meeting, the governor of Michigan enacted the nation’s first state-wide ban on flavored e-cigarettes, citing a decision by the state’s health department to deem youth vaping a “health emergency.”

That prohibition covers all sweet, mint and menthol-flavored vaping products, and also bans “misleading” descriptions of vapor products as “clear,” “safe,” or “healthy.” It’s a temporary, six-month measure meant to regulate online and retail sales while the state’s health department works to develop rules for a permanent state-wide ban.

The only current restriction on e-cigarette use in Florida went into effect in July – an extension of the Florida Clean Air Act that loops e-cigarettes into the existing ban on smoking in indoor workplaces. Still, the new law, approved by nearly 70 percent of voters, allows for vaping inside private residences, retail tobacco stores, stand-alone bars and hotel rooms that allow smoking.

The new law stopped short of writing e-cigarettes into existing Florida laws, stipulating that only the state can regulate tobacco smoking. That leaves a narrow opportunity for local governments to impose their own restrictions and regulations, Murman said.

“We’ve got the door open,'' she said, "so let’s do something to help keep our children safe.”

Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins and Sheriff Chad Chronister appear in a new public service announcement about the dangers of vaping that has aired on middle and high school classroom televisions since the start of the school year.

The video came in response to a sharp increase in the number of on-campus tobacco-related incidents reported by the county’s public schools. Last school year, the district received 390 reports of on-campus incidents involving tobacco – up from 178 during the previous school year.

Tobacco-free Florida’s “Youth Tobacco Survey” found that roughly 25 percent of the state’s high school students reported using electronic vaping devices — a 58 percent increase compared to 2017.

Using or possessing e-cigarettes, or tobacco products in any form, is prohibited on school campuses, Chronister says in the video. And the penalty for those caught with a vape in school goes beyond in-school suspension and a call to mom or dad. Students will also receive a civil citation on first offense, which requires court appearances and community service hours.

Chronister also warns that confiscated devices will be tested by his office. If they test positive for illegal substances like THC oil, a highly potent form of cannabis, students won’t get the leniency shown to those busted for smoking pot, Chronister said. Because the oil is so strong, the crime is instantly elevated to a felony charge.

“A felony has long-term effects on your future,” Chronister said. “Everything from getting a job to going to college will be impacted. Today we are pleading with students to please put down the pen.”



ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is seeking for information about a man accused of killing a duck at a Town 'N Country apartment complex in Tampa. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922. [Bay News 9]
    He used bread to lure the bird in before killing it. A complaint was filed with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
  2. Rocky Johnson, a member of the WWE Hall of Fame and a resident of Lutz, died Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Johnson thought he had flu. He went to the doctor the day before he died.
  3. Yacht StarShip, a dining and water taxi company, has added the Lost Pearl pirate ship to its fleet just in time for Gasparilla. [Yacht StarShip]
    After years entertaining tourists in Virginia Beach, the Lost Pearl is settling into its new Tampa Bay home.
  4. A scooter rider navigates Platt Street on Friday morning during the calm before the storm — successive weekends of downtown Gasparilla parades. Scooter companies like Jump warn users it’s a violation of their rental agreement to operate one while under the influence. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    One company decided to pull its scooters Jan. 25 ‘out of an abundance of caution for riders and those participating in Gasparilla.’
  5. Delta Air Lines said Friday it will launch five new round-trip routes a day between Tampa and Miami starting May 4. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    Delta says the daily nonstop Miami service will create new connections for Tampa travelers to fly to Latin America and other international destinations.
  6. Former Hillsborough sheriff's Corporal Demetrius Dixon, inset, filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office on Jan. 7 claiming he was the target of discrimination because of his attention deficit disorder. [Inset photo: Kyle Lee; Main: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
    Demetrius Dixon was a corporal who sought a promotion to sergeant but was instead forced to retire early, the lawsuit says.
  7. The Undercroft — the new home to a branch office of TheIncLab, an artificial intelligence firm — provides work space for several cybersecurity companies in one of Ybor City’s most historic structures, the El Pasaje building on E Ninth Avenue. RICHARD DANIELSON | Times [Richard Danielson]
    The Washington, D.C.-area company expects hiring 15 developers and engineers in the next twelve months and partnering with bay area universities to augment its staff with student interns.
  8. A digital overlay shows the modern structures that sit on top the early 1900s-era Zion Cemetery. [Google Earth]
    On at least three occasions from 1929 to 1962, the forgotten cemetery came to the attention of the city of Tampa. No action was taken.
  9. Chris Card, chief of community-based care for Eckerd Connects. His agency is now running the two biggest child welfare jurisdictions in Florida. [Tampa Bay Times]
    They are spending more time outside a permanent home as the county struggles to deal with an increase in removals.
  10. A new Publix in the Channell district located on the corner of E Twiggs Street and N Meridian Avenue in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times] ["OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Meanwhile in Tampa, the Westshore store could open soon.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement