CHICAGO — Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and doctors will discuss the epidemic of e-cigarettes and vaping among young people at a news conference Monday morning.
According to the senator’s office, there have been 42 confirmed cases of vaping-related lung disease in Illinois.
“It looks so innocent, doesn’t it? Like you plug it into a computer,” said Durbin while holding up an e-cigarette. “And some people think it’s just that, but it isn’t.”
Across the country, there have been 450 possible cases in 33 states, and five people have died after suffering from a lung-related illness linked to vaping. One of those deaths was in Illinois.
Besides the health risks, vaping critics say these products are marketed toward young people. They say the names of the flavors are clearly designed to grab the attention of younger users.
“This is a kids toy. Make no mistake about it. No matter what Juul tells you. ‘Oh, we don’t want to sell to kid.’ Come on, get real,” said Durbin.
“I have an 18-year old patient who started vaping nicotine-free e-juice when he was 17, but over the course of a few weeks he transitioned to nicotine containing products,” said Dr. Maria Rahmandar. “He was even bringing his vaping device to school, to use, in between classes.”
E-cigarette use is up 78 percent in the past year alone, according to Durbin’s office. It’s up 48 percent in middle school.
Overall, nearly four million children are vaping.
Durbin sent a letter calling for the FDA acting commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless to step down unless Sharpless takes decisive action. He wants the agency to ban flavored e- cigarettes, which the state of Michigan just did.