Missouri Governor Mike Parson announces the rollout of youth vaping awareness campaign as enforcement efforts increase at retailers who sell vaping products.

Governor Mike Parson announced on Monday the launch of the state’s Clean the Air campaign, a coordinated effort by the state’s health, education and public safety departments to educate and deter youth from using electronic cigarettes and vaping products.

Governor Parson said despite the laws in place, there has been an increase in vaping among the state’s youth as he signed Executive Order 19-18  in October. The executive order directed the Departments of Health and Senior Services, Elementary and Secondary Education and Public Safety to use existing resources to develop a statewide campaign centered on prevention and educational messaging to counter vaping industry marketing practices. 

Over the past month, the state agencies have worked together with partners from other state departments and external agencies to learn more about youth vaping. Through communication with district administration and a variety of other means, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will now help bring Clean the Air campaign materials to Missouri schools.

“One of the most important responsibilities I have as governor is to protect the health and well-being of our future generations. Vaping is truly an epidemic among our youth, and we must take action now to educate them about the potential risks of these products,” Governor Parson said in a release on Monday.

Missouri’s Division of Alcohol and Tobacco control has increased enforcement efforts at retailers who sell vaping products as part of the initiative. Over the past 30 days, the division has had six full-time tobacco and vaping enforcement agents focused on retailers selling vape products throughout the state. 

“Our enforcement operations show that across Missouri, 83 percent of retailers are checking IDs and refusing sales to those who are under age 18,” State Supervisor of the Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control Dottie Taylor said in a release on Monday.

In addition to the executive order, Governor Parson also signed letters to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Senior Services supporting their efforts to address the outbreak of lung injury associated with the use of vaping products.

Missouri’s Department of Health is currently working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other clinical and public health partners to investigate the outbreak of lung injury associated with the use of electronic cigarettes or vaping products. On Nov. 14, the CDC identified vitamin E acetate, an additive in some THC-containing products, as the chemical of concern among people with a vaping-related lung injury.

The CDC said the department found vitamin E acetate in all of the samples in the CDC’s recent laboratory testing of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid samples collected from the lungs of 29 patients with vaping-associated lung injury submitted to the CDC from 10 states. THC was found in 82 percent of the samples and nicotine in 62 percent of the samples.

The CDC tested for many chemicals that might be in electronic cigarettes or vaping products, including plant oils, petroleum distillates, MCT oil and terpenes. The department found that none of the substances were detected in the analyses of the patient’s bronchoalveolar lavage fluid samples. 

The CDC said while vitamin E acetate is associated with vaping-associated lung injury, the evidence is not yet sufficient to rule out the contribution of other chemicals of concern with many different substances and product sources still under investigation.

Missouri’s Department of Health confirmed the second vaping-related death in Missouri on Nov. 14 and has found 35 cases of lung injury associated with the use of vaping products in Missouri since late August.

There have been 2,172 cases of electronic cigarette or vaping associated lung injury reported to the CDC from 49 states, and 42 vaping-related deaths confirmed in 24 states, as of Nov. 13.  The median age of the 42 individuals was 52 years old, according to the CDC.