A campaign to educate children and families about the dangers of vaping was launched Thursday by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who was joined by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
The “Your Body Knows” campaigns — one focusing on educating children and another intended for adults — will feature educational advertising — in multiple languages — on television, billboards and social media platforms, 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.
Feuer previewed one of the advertisements from the campaign for the website DisobeyVape.com, where teenagers act out having chest problems after vaping, and computerized imaging shows their bodies being affected by nicotine.
Feuer said changing the behaviors of children can be difficult and that he wants to create more focus groups to grow the campaign.
A dozen people in the United States have died so far this year — including one from Los Angeles County — and more than 800 people have fallen sick due to vaping, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC said it has not yet determined the exact cause of the lung illnesses people have reported.
“Let no one be deceived with how serious this vaping problem has become. These lives were cut short for no reason whatsoever. We must act,” Becerra said. “This year, we (the California Department of Justice) will be providing $30 million in grant support to city attorneys and county councils, to law enforcement and to school districts … to fight the scourge of tobacco use and misuse.”
The city’s campaign will be funded with $1.5 million in tobacco tax revenue.
Becerra said any laws created related to vaping need to be progressive and modern to be effective.
“We can only use the tools that are in the statutes, and until we have that, whether its the city level or the state level, we have to operate with what (laws) we have,” Becerra said.
Last Thursday, Feuer called for a citywide ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products. He specifically referenced flavors like cereal, candy and fruits in products that he wants taken off the market.
The city attorney sent a report to the City Council outlining restrictions that have been enacted in other cities and states that aim to curtail sales of electronic cigarettes, hookah devices and other products that distribute nicotine. Some of the prohibitions suggested include regulating vaping advertising or coupons, as well as consideration of an outright ban on the substances and devices.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took the first steps in banning flavored tobacco on Tuesday. The proposed ordinance will come back to the board for a second reading as early as next week, and would take effect 30 days after that second vote. Tobacco retailers would then have 180 days, under an amendment proposed by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, to obtain new licenses required under the ordinance and to clear their shelves of flavored tobacco products.
Michigan became the first state last week to banned the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes completely.