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Erie County educators urge county lawmakers for help addressing growing vaping issue

Posted at 6:08 PM, Jan 24, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The use of electronic cigarettes continues to grow among teens.

According to the National Institute of Health, the percentage of teens that said they have vaped increased from 11 percent in 2017 to 20.9 in 2018.

Erie County educators are having trouble addressing the issue.

"Now we have kids who are bringing these very small little electronic devices in and can very easily push them up a sleeve, hide them in a pocket. it can go places we can't go," Carol Townsend, principal at Depew high school, said.

Principals, assistant superintendents, and social workers from seven different schools in Erie County addressed county legislators about what they say is an "epidemic."

They're facing addiction to a substance to nicotine, and they are putting poison into their bodies, and it's pervasive. It's epanded well beyond what cigarettes ever were," Jason Winnicki, principal at West Seneca East high school, said.

The National Institute of Health said teenagers are now more likely to smoke e-cigs than traditional cigarettes.

That's why these educators went to the legislature. To try and find a solution.

"Let's put it back with the cigarettes behind the counter locked up out of view of our children. Let's restrict the colors. Let's get rid of the good flavors they have," Winnicki said.

Educators hope that enacting restrictions on e-cig marketing, vape juice flavors, and device colors will curb the growing trend.

"The punishment isn't working. We need something more. We need to get these out of the hands of kids," Townsend said.

While there are lawmakers who are in favor of passing some sort of legislation, what exactly that can be is unclear. Legislators have to talk to the county attorney before anything else happens.

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