Pensacola law firm holds community discussion about teen vaping

Northwest Florida

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A community discussion was held Tuesday night in Pensacola to discuss the national adolescent vaping crisis.

Levin Papantonio law firm hosted the discussion — one of its series of “People’s Law School” panel discussions. About 50 people were in attendance.

Discussed were marketing tactics by popular vaping device companies like JUUL, which the law firm claims used illegal marketing tactics used by big tobacco companies in the 50s to get teens hooked. Attorney Christopher Paulos says JUUL used appealing flavors and a sleek design to target kids. Paulos said this is similar to how cigarette companies used cool Camel Joe to draw kids into smoking during the 50s.

“What we know is these companies specifically looked at marketing that is now illegal for traditional tobacco companies and saw the success of those now-illegal marketing campaigns and have copied that, have mimicked that,” Paulos said. “We also know the chemical makeup was designed to become more addictive and less offensive for people who have never used it before.”

According to the law firm, the number of middle and high schoolers who vape has risen from 2.1 million in 2017 to 3.6 million in 2018.

That trend continues to rise. Catholic High School has even had to install vape detection devices to keep students from vaping.

Britney Sturgeon, a Pensacola Police Department school resource officer at Washington High School, served as a panelist on the community panel Tuesday night.

Sturgeon told News 5 while disciplining students for vaping in-between class, she tries to inform them of the potential dangers of vaping.

“I always try to counsel them on the decision they’re making,” Sturgeon said. “They have one body and whenever you’re putting something like that inside, they may not be thinking of later effects now but your health is something that affects you for the rest of your life.”

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