Anti-vaping legislation stalls in Florida amid ongoing illnesses, deaths nationally

Certain fruity and sweet e-cigarette products are temporarily banned but many popular options remain legal. Credit: Getty Images

As state and federal health officials continue investigations into lung injuries and diseases attached to e-cigarette use, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported a rising toll of vaping cases and deaths.

As of Feb. 4, there had been 64 deaths in 28 states including Florida, the CDC said in a press release on Tuesday.

Florida reported two deaths during 2019 but none so far in 2020, according to the latest data from the Florida Department of Health.

The state agency also reported 110 cases of “vaping product use associated lung injury,” referred to as EVALI for short, between Jan. 1, 2019 and Feb. 1 of this year.

“As of Feb. 4, 2020, 2,758 cases of hospitalized EVALI or deaths were reported by all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands),” the CDC said.

Other than Florida, states with reported deaths include Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.

Vaping has been linked to a variety of lung injuries, some developing rapidly and others over several weeks, according to CDC’s website.

These symptoms include cough, shortness of breath or chest pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills, or weight loss.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers have proposed legislation to ban flavored e-liquids, which they argue attracts teens. Flavor varieties include cotton candy and mint.

However, the two bills have yet to receive a committee hearing: SB 694, filed by Sen. Debbie Mayfield, a Melbourne Republican; and HB 151, by State Reps. Jackie Toledo, a Tampa Republican, and Nicholas Duran, a Miami Democrat.

The Florida Phoenix reached out to the bill sponsors but hadn’t received a response as of yet.