Our fact-gathering mission to find out what is behind a dramatic increase in teen vaping in Florida continued. According to the Florida Department of Health, e-cigarette use among high school students increased 78 percent from 2017 to 2018.

We want to know why, and more importantly how to reverse this disturbing trend. This mission brought me to two Florida cities—Oviedo and Sarasota—this week, where I met with education leaders, law enforcement officers and concerned parents.

According to a FDOH study, more than 28 percent of students in Sarasota County and Seminole County use e-cigarettes—slightly higher than the state average. Shockingly, people I spoke to believe the rate is much higher.

This is extremely concerning because, according to the Centers for Disease Control, juvenile nicotine exposure can harm brain development in ways that may affect the health and mental health of youth.

To stop this trend and protect our kids, we need to find out how minors are getting their hands on these products. It’s illegal under Florida law to sell these products to anyone under 18, yet vaping among minors is out of control.

As your Attorney General, I am dedicated to protecting all Floridians, but especially the most vulnerable among us. While vaping may be a useful tool to help adults stop smoking traditional cigarettes, kids may have no idea of the risks involved. In fact, two out of three high school students do not know that the products contain nicotine.

As a mother, I want to ensure all our children have an opportunity to grow and learn in a safe, healthy environment. That is why, I want to encourage parents to talk to their kids about the risks associated with children vaping.

This is just one way, working together, we will build a stronger, safer Florida.

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