Hillsborough County commissioner aims to raise age to buy vaping products

Young people may soon have a harder time buying vape products in Hillsborough County, if Commissioner Sandy Murman has her way. 

She proposed an ordinance that would increase the age limit to buy vaping supplies from 18 to 21.

"This is all to keep our children safe, it's the bottom line," said Murman, who spearheaded the proposal.

Opponents crowded the podium at Wednesday's commission meeting.

"It just doesn't seem like that's a fair thing to do," said Patricia Cosgrove, who owns a vape shop.

The CDC has issued warnings about e-cigarettes and vaping-related illnesses. As of Oct. 8, 2019, the organization reports 1,299 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarettes or vaping products.

At least 26 deaths have been confirmed in 21 states.

Health officials also worry companies are directly targeting their products toward young people. State Attorney General Ashley Moody announced an investigation into the practice Wednesday.

Although counties do not have the authority to regulate tobacco products, like cigarettes, they do have the ability to regulate vape products.

"We know that this is a huge problem," said Murman.

Mayor Jane Castor and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister are discussing what kind of penalty those who disobey the proposed ordinance will face. Right now, they are debating whether to make it a civil citation or a second-degree misdemeanor.

The Hillsborough County Commission will take up the issue again Nov. 6.