Missouri seeks to counter vaping among teens with plans to ramp up prevention

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A rapid increase in the numbers of teens vaping is prompting Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to take action to protect health among young people.

State agencies will begin reviewing evidence and cases involving vaping-related injuries, particularly among children.

Missouri is also going to ramp up its prevention and educational messages targeting teens to counter vaping marketing efforts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have called vaping use among young people an epidemic.

Federal statistics show more than 1,000 lung injury cases and 18 deaths across the country. Missouri has had 22 cases of vaping illnesses and at least one death.

"I think the whole concept of vaping was to try to keep people from smoking," Parson said. "I'm not sure that's what it's really done. I'm not sure we haven't created more problems. I don't know if there's research on that to have the answers as to what the effect is. We know there are problems there, but I'm not sure anybody knows yet."

State agencies have 30 days to launch an anti-vaping campaign targeting teenagers.

The Missouri Student Survey reports increases in vaping among middle-schoolers and high school students every year since 2014. More than one of out four teens reported vaping last year.

The Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control also is stepping up enforcement to make sure retailers and not selling vaping products to minors.

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