Wisconsin bill seeks to curtail underage vaping

After holding a public hearing, state lawmakers are crafting a bipartisan bill to set a minimum age of 21 for purchase of vaping and other tobacco products, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The measure is in response to a national vaping illness outbreak that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention links to nearly 1,900 illnesses and 37 deaths since March of this year. The majority of those sickened by electronic cigarette use have acknowledged they vaped products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the psychoactive chemical responsible for most of marijuana's effects.

Vaping among high school students has skyrocketed despite the damage that chemicals in the devices can cause to the heart and lungs, and many consider it as a public health crisis.

Dr. Michael Fiore, head of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Prevention, testified in support of the bill. “We have a crisis of youth tobacco use both in Wisconsin and nationwide,” he told lawmakers.

Legislative action on the measure could come as early as today.