MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Surgeon General is calling teen vaping an “epidemic,” and South Carolina lawmakers are one step closer to getting a handle on it.
State lawmakers are cracking down on teen vaping through a bill that would make it harder for them to get e-cigarettes.
It’s one of the first bills of the legislative session to pass unanimously in the State House this year and now restricts online purchases to minors.
Anyone attempting to purchase electronic cigarette products online or by mail must prove they are at least 18 years of age. Lawmakers said limiting online sales will disrupt a popular way for teens to obtain e-cigarette products.
The bill just received its third reading Wednesday and is now heading to the Senate. In 2018 alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 3.6 million U.S. high school and middle school-aged students were vaping. This bill hopes to fight that by banning vaping on public school property.
Here in Horry County, schools already prohibit tobacco use, including e-cigs and vaping products. Rep. Alan Clemmons said he hopes this bill will help prevent area students from being exposed to these addictive products.
“It’s easy for us to slide from the position that we are now to wide acceptance, and speaking for myself and having grown up in schools in Horry County and public schools during the time that I was in public school, smoking was widely embraced as the normal activity while my parents encouraged me not to engage in smoking, and actually I never did," Clemmons said. "I remember well, my friends having designated smoking areas on the school grounds where children were able to go smoke. We certainly don’t want, or I don’t want, that slide to happen in South Carolina with regard to the more popular forms of smoking today - vaping.”
Dr. Justin Pandoo with Conway Medical Center said there’s many misconceptions with e-cigarettes. He noted that although the devices are marketed as an alternative and “safer” option to smoking cigarettes, that still doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good for a person.
“It’s definitely better than obviously the cigarettes, but the long and short of it is, it’s still not good; it’s the lesser of two evils," Pandoo said.
He noted that some of the chemicals in e-cigarettes can cause lung cancer.