Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has launched an investigation into more than 20 vaping companies after state officials attributed one death and 68 cases of lung injury to e-cigarettes.
Moody, who spoke Wednesday at Oviedo High School, said the scope of the investigation includes determining whether the companies’ advertisements target minors, identifying the age-verification process for consumer sales and fact-checking health claims.
One in four Florida high school students has admitted to vaping, Moody said, adding that most teenagers don’t realize that vaping products contain nicotine.
“This is not something that we can sit on our hands and watch while the next generation gets addicted to nicotine,” she said.
Thirteen of 22 companies under scrutiny are based in Florida, including Creative Vape Labs, Inc. in Orlando and The Vaporatory, LLC in Altamonte Springs. The remaining companies have headquarters in New York, California, North Carolina, New Jersey and Nevada but all do business in Florida, according to Moody’s office.
Moody didn’t elaborate on what factors led to the investigation of those specific companies.
She also didn’t cite possible penalties for any company found in violation of the law but said the state will make sure “those that are playing fast and loose with the lives of our young people are held accountable.”
As of Oct. 8, there have been 18 deaths and 1,299 reported lung-injury cases nationwide associated with e-cigarette use or vaping, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
E-cigarettes are mostly unregulated in the U.S. and have continued to gain popularity among teenagers with candy, cereal and fruit-flavored cartridges.
Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said a female middle-school student was found last year with 20 empty vaping cartridges in her backpack, equivalent to the nicotine in a pack of cigarettes.