ATLANTA (AP) Georgia lawmakers considering restrictions on vaping products heard from doctors and students Tuesday who said e-cigarette use is prevalent among children and poses serious risks to their health.
In emotional testimony, Amy Sedgwick, a nurse, recounted her son's hospitalization in July with a collapsed lung that she said was the result of vaping.
``Nothing is more horrifying than watching your own child come through those emergency doors saying, `Mom, I think I'm having a heart attack. I can't breathe,''' Sedgwick, a nurse, told members of a Georgia Senate committee.
She choked up as she recalled her son's return to the emergency room days later with another collapsed lung. Doctors had to pry his lungs apart and insert a large tube in his chest.
Sedgwick said she could hear him screaming from the other side of the emergency room, and recalled how when he was taken to an operating room he asked whether he was going to die.
More than 2,600 people nationwide have been diagnosed with a vaping-related lung illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dozens of people have died.
Advocates for the e-cigarette industry say vaping products save lives by helping smokers quit.
A bill before the Georgia Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities committee would raise the minimum age to purchase vaping products in the state from 18 to 21, increase penalties for selling them to minors and restrict packaging that appeals to young people. It would also require schools to teach students about the dangers of vaping.
``My biggest concern is those marketing schemes of where they're trying to appeal to a younger and younger audience,'' the bill's sponsor, Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said.
Unterman said the bill would probably change in response to vaping regulations she expected from the federal government. The committee did not immediately take any action on it Tuesday.
The Trump administration announced this month that it will prohibit fruit, candy, mint and dessert flavors from small, cartridge-based e-cigarettes favored by high school and middle school students. But menthol and tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes will be allowed to remain on the market, and the targeted flavor ban entirely exempts large, tank-based vaping devices, which are primarily sold in vape shops that cater to adult smokers.
Others states have also moved to restrict vaping. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation last week that banned the sale of flavored vaping products. New Mexico legislators are considering a ban on flavored tobacco and nicotine vaping products along with greater oversight of retail sales to discourage use by minors and young adults.