FDA: Teen use of e-cigarettes reaches epidemic level

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The Food and Drug Administration claims teenage use of e-cigarettes has reached "epidemic" levels.

Today, the FDA issued more than 1,300 warning letters to retailers that have illegally sold JUUL and other e-cigarette products to minors during a nationwide, undercover operation this summer.

Local e-cigarette shops like Big E's Vapor Shop prohibit people under the age of 18 from entering and buying products. 

"You're not being a very good community member if you're trying to make your money off selling to underage kids. I believe there was a couple of shops in Wichita that were doing that a while back, but they didn't last," said Eldon Simmons, owner.

Simmons credits e-cigarettes for helping him quit smoking after 32 years.

"I was a 15 cigar a day smoker and I was able to quit smoking in six days, and that blew my mind," he said.

He says his staff is aware that young people want to purchase these products but he is adamant about their policies.

"Company wide very strict. We just don't want to be caught up in that mess. You shouldn't vape if you're under 18. That's the law. Just like it is with smoking," said Simmons.

The FDA is giving 60 days to the the top five manufacturers of e-cigarettes (Vuse, Blu, JUUL, MarkTen XL, and Logic) to produce plans to immediately reverse underage use of their products.

"I think the parents got to be involved in it somewhere. I don't know what a regulation from Washington, D.C. is going to do about a eight-year-old kid that his mom let have a vape. We have to get some parenting going on with that to help that out, I think."

To view the entire news release from the FDA, click here.

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