Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Thursday announced a $1.5 million anti-vaping initiative after a recent rise in vaping-related deaths across the country.
The two leaders called vaping a public health crisis and noted that vaping disproportionally affects children and teens.
As of Thursday, 805 people have a vaping-related illness and 12 have died nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease County and Prevention.
There have been 16 reports of serious vaping-associated pulmonary injuries and one death associated with e-cigarettes in Los Angeles County, according to the department of public health. About two out of three cases reported involved individuals who are 25 and younger, officials said.
The multilingual educational campaign in Los Angeles called “Your Body Knows” includes TV ads, a website, social media and outdoor advertisements that highlight the dangers of vaping.
“All aimed at getting kids and parents facts so they can be armed with information that we hope can diminish rate of teen vaping,” Feuer said.
“The vaping industry has been reaping lots of profits, but it is our kids who pay the price. Our kids who put their health on the line.”
Feuer said the vaping industry is trying to mask the risks of their products by creating flavors that appeal to children and by advertising to a younger crowd.
“If the vape industry is not going to tell the truth about the chemicals that vaping creates, about the risks of asthma and cancer, about the real probability that kids who vape are then going to turn to traditional cigarettes … then we will,” the city attorney said.
During a news conference announcing the initiative, Feuer played a dramatic TV spot featuring students and how vaping has affected their health.
He noted that it’s hard for change the habits of young people, but that this campaign is a step in the right direction.
“We know that kids don’t want be scared straight, kids want to get the facts,” Feuer said. “Our campaign on every level is designed to introduce to kids the dangers, but send them to a site that’s factual so they can make decisions for themselves.”
Becerra said the grant money for the initiative is a result of the tax on tobacco and that similar grants are available to city attorney offices, school districts and other agencies across the state.
He also highlighted the rising dangers of vaping.
“These lives are cut short for no reason what’s so ever,” the attorney general said. “We must act.”
The campaign comes after the Feuer called on the city to ban all flavored tobacco products and announced settlements against two vaping companies that his office alleged illegally marketed and sold to minors.
On Tuesday the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to ban sale of flavored tobacco in unincorporated areas of the county, which impacts 100 communities.
Elsewhere in the county, Burbank could become biggest city to ban flavored e-cigarettes, joining the likes of West Hollywood Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Beverly Hills. The Burbank City Council will vote again on the matter next month.