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Sen. Blumenthal hears student input on teen vaping

GLASTONBURY — Connecticut’s Congressional delegation is leading the charge against what they call a teen public health epidemic.

Senator Richard Blumenthal met with teens at the heart of the issue at Glastonbury High School. He called out the FDA for a lack of oversight, infrastructure and information to help kids quit. “We’re in an epidemic that they can help stop,” said Blumenthal.

He unveiled federal legislation aimed to curb teen vaping, which according to the FDA, has risen 78% in the last year. “Flavored products should be removed from the shelves. The FDA could do it almost immediately. They have been lagging in their efforts. The federal government is failing,” said Blumenthal.

Students we talked to say vaping has become a prevalent part of the day to day social norms. Jack Dolan is a student at Glastonbury High School. “After school and before school in the parking lot, even around town. It’s easy to see and it’s sad,” he said.

The legislation would create a federal program within the Centers for Disease Control solely dedicated to e-cigarette prevention. Dolan gave the Senator the suggestion of prohibiting online sales. “It’s so easy for kids to take a parents credit card or their own card and just buy one online,” said Dolan.

And while the federal measures press on — the state is also tackling the issue with bills kicking around that would raise the legal age to 21, tax vaping products like cigarettes and ban vaping on beaches at state parks. State Sen. Derek Slap said, “One of the things we’re looking at is cracking down on the online delivery of vaping products to minors. That’s going to be part of our bipartisan bill. We’re also going to deal with the age limit and I think we’re going to see raising it to 21 for all tobacco products.”

Patrice McCarthy is with the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education and says they’re trying get kids informed to make healthy choices. “We make sure that our students have the ability to look at these products, realize the danger and resists the temptation to use them.”

Students also told us that key to the conversation is education and possibly making vaping a mandatory part of high school health curriculum. There’s a bill moving through the General Assembly that would do exactly that.

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