Moody takes on teen vaping epidemic in Sarasota

The Florida Department of Health says 28% of middle and high school teens have admitted to vaping -- a number that has more than doubled in the last year

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody visited Sarasota County Thursday where teachers say it’s a battle every day, and addiction is winning.

“I no longer allow backpacks in their lap,” one teacher told Moody during a round table discussion. “They’ll bend over in their lap and vape in the classroom,” the teacher said.

Moody is visiting school districts statewide learning about how to fight the issue.

“We have heard stories that even students in elementary schools are vaping,” Moody said. “That’s a problem and we’ve got to get ahead of it.”

For Erin and Jared NesSmith, the fight has become personal.

The couple busted their 15- year-old daughter, who was smoking a cartridge a day. Compare that to 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine. The NesSmith’s say their daughter dropped out of varsity sports and skipped class to vape, killing her grades.

“With the addiction, she has focused completely, like any other hardcore drug,” Jared NesSmith said. “I believe this is in the same class.”

The family is part of a federal class-action lawsuit against e-cigarette companies Juul, Altria, and Philip Morris USA. The suit claims the companies are breaking the law with flashy ads designed to attract kids.

Juul has said they never want kids to touch their products and are aggressively combating underage use.

Moody isn’t saying whether she plans to target manufacturers, but she plans to take this conversation to lawmakers.