WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Teens across the country are saying enough is enough and want the government to put an end to the teen vaping epidemic.
Dozens of teens rallied outside of Juul’s D.C. headquarters Wednesday, blaming the company for a surge in teen addicts. They say vaping nearly destroyed their lives.
“I couldn’t breathe. My heart was having crazy palpitations,” Ally Harrison recalled. “I’m really frustrated.”
Harrison, 18, started vaping four years ago. She said that amid a vaping health crisis that’s killed 19 people and left about 1,000 hospitalized, it’s time for the government to step in and force vaping companies to pull flavored products.
“I ended up going into full respiratory failure,” another former vaper, Piper Johnson, said. “These products are killing people and no one is doing anything about it. We shouldn’t be used as guinea pigs.”
Thompson, from Illinois, was one of the first in the country diagnosed with a lung injury linked to vaping.
“I had a seizure related to it. I also went to rehab for 39 days for it,” Luka Kinard, a former teen vaper from North Carolina, said.
It seems like they have a new ally: First Lady Melania Trump. She and Alex Azar, the health and human services secretary, invited a group of teens to the White House Wednesday to share their story.
“We need to protect our youth and our next generation. It’s very important. We need to be proactive,” the first lady said.
The group of teens spent nearly an hour expressing their concerns.
Azar agrees the problem is urgent. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working on rules to remove specific flavored vaping products from shelves at the order of President Donald Trump.
“We have 5 million kids who are using these e-cigarettes,” Azar said. “Bubblegum or mango, those products really have to come off.” He says new rules will be out soon.