NewsCitrus, Hernando County


1 in 4 Florida teens are vaping and one student is determined to raise awareness of its dangers

Posted at 5:00 PM, Apr 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-30 19:35:07-04

HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. — Vaping is now an epidemic among teens, and one Hernando County student is on a mission to help raise awareness of its dangers.

"My sister was vaping and had to get rushed to the hospital because her heart was elevated to the point where she was going to die. The doctor said it was laced with arsenic," said Maleaha Williams, a Hernando High School Senior.

Williams says after this happened, she couldn’t just sit back and watch her peers vape and do nothing.

"I personally know the effects of it because I came from addicted parents and kids don’t know what’s inside of these, no one really knows because it’s not regulated yet," said Williams.

Williams single-handedly organized an anti-vaping presentation at her school.

She shared her personal story and gave her classmates more information about what the FDA has declared an epidemic.

"It is just so so dangerous because it allows kids to consume toxic levels of this and it goes undetected until it's too late," said Janice Smith, substance abuse professional for the Hernando County School District.

The district says one student each week is rushed to the E.R. for inhaling toxic amounts of the vaping chemicals.

Law enforcement has issued 300 citations to students so far for having vapes and e-cigs on Hernando County school property.

Tobacco-free Florida says one in four Florida teens are vaping.

"25% of young people in Florida are using Juul and using e-cigarettes which is drastically higher than any kind of other tobacco use that we’ve seen in decades," said John-Michael Gonzales of Tobacco-free Florida.

Officials say the problem is that the products are not regulated and not inspected like places that sell tobacco.

"It's really the wild west out there. Anyone can set up shop on a corner and start selling to anyone who walks in," said Gonzales.

As for Williams, she wants her peers to think about what could happen before doing it.

"Addiction may not be a choice but starting is," said Williams.

For more information on prevention and how to quit, visit