HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - How easy is it for a teen to buy a vape? We found out that with determination it’s possible. Our cameras were rolling Wednesday night when a 17-year-old brought a vape at a Huntsville gas station. Alabama’s legal age for nicotine products is 19.
“I was convinced she was not going to be able to get one tonight," said Kim Crawford. “Out of 7 only one sold it, but still that’s one too many.”
Crawford volunteered her daughter for the test. After a multiple store journey, the seventh time was the charm..
“Prior to tonight she didn’t know the lingo. So, I think just keeping the dialogue open and talking to them not only about the Juul’s but cigarettes, vaping and the dangers of it," said Crawford.
Madison City Schools administrators are one of many systems across the Tennessee Valley fighting back on the popularity of teen vaping.
“We want to be proactive," stated safety and security coordinator Dr. David West. “A lot of kids don’t know the dangers involved in it. It doesn’t smell like typical cigarette smoke but the chemicals are just the same.”
Parents of Liberty Middle School students got a letter from school leaders saying in part, “unfortunately, secondary schools throughout the nation continue to see an increase in vaping. This trend is also true in Madison City Schools.”
The U.S. Surgeon General has called e-cigarette use among our youth an “epidemic”. Last year alone, vaping increased 78 percent in high school students and 48 percent in middle school students nationwide.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced they are investigation 153 cases of severe lung disease in 16 states possibly linked to vaping. The cases were reported from June 28-Aug. 20, and have primarily affected adolescents and young adults.
West believes the solution to combat this growth is education and conversation.
“It’s hard having those conversations so we’re encouraging our parents to have that conversation with their student. That’s first and foremost. Our teachers and staff we want them to have those conversations as well," said West.