• Action News Jax Investigates: Local children vaping to get high

    By: Tenikka Hughes , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It's considered an epidemic -- kids and teens smoking electronic cigarettes, or vaping. 

    The problem is growing so fast, Florida's state attorney came to Northeast Florida to try to get to the bottom of why it is happening.  

    In an Action News Jax investigation, anchor Tenikka Hughes learned Nassau County is also dealing with a new concern.


    TRENDING:  


    Young people are now vaping to get high.

    A recent study found Nassau County ranks seventh out of all Florida counties for the percentage of middle of high school students who vape.  

    E-cigarettes or vapes are not always easy to spot.  

    They are usually pocket-sized and can look like thumb drives, pens or small containers. 

    Mom Jacquelyn Johnson said her 13-year-old daughter told her about kids vaping at her Nassau County middle school.  

    CONTENT CONTINUES BELOW: 

    STAY UPDATED: Download the Action News Jax app for live updates on breaking stories

    Download WJAX Apps

    "She has told me about children bringing in the JUUL.  I'm not sure what that is."

    Sheriff Leeper also knows about the vaping problem in local schools.  

    "We had five cases at a local high school with THC with the pens," the sheriff said.

    Navy veteran Tim Beazley sells all kinds of vapes at Vapeology in Callahan.  

    Beazley and his two partners opened the vape shop nearly two years ago after he said vaping helped them quit cigarettes and dipping tobacco.  

    "If people can get off cigarettes and put the dip can down, that's what I want to do for my community," said Beazley.

    Beazley said he also wants to help prevent young people in his community from vaping illegally.

    He said his team is strict about not selling to anyone underage and he welcomes parents to stop by the shop to learn what to look out for.  

    "I grew up in this town. My wife lives in this town. My son and daughter go to these schools and I don't want to see them get caught up in this type of situation." Beazley added, "We want to show them what is out there so they know what to look for because if we don't, they know what to look for because if we don't, they are going to look right over it." 

    "He continued to vomit in the bathroom and passed out until someone came in and found him."  

    Georgia mother Lacey Turner said her 16-year-old collapsed at school and nearly died after taking one hit of THC vaping wax.  

    Turner said cognitively, he was completely disassociated. You pretty much had to slap him and get him to open his eyes.

    Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper is well aware of the potential dangers.  

    Leeper said, "These people just want to sell stuff they don't care about what happens to you afterwards."

    Sheriff Leeper also knows about the vaping problem in local schools.  

    A recent study found Nassau County ranks seventh out of all Florida counties for the percentage of middle of high school students who vape.  

    E-cigarettes or vapes are not always easy to spot.  

    They are usually pocket-sized and can look like thumb drives, pens or small containers. 

    Mom Jacquelyn Johnson said her 13-year-old daughter told her about kids vaping at her Nassau County middle school.  

    "She has told me about children bringing in the JUUL.  I'm not sure what that is."

    Navy veteran Tim Beazley sells all kinds of vapes at Vapeology in Callahan.  

    Beazley and his two partners opened the vape shop nearly two years ago after he said vaping helped them quit cigarettes and dipping tobacco. 

    "If people can get off cigarettes and put the dip can down, that's what I want to do for my community," said Beazley.

    Beazley said he also wants to help prevent young people in his community from vaping illegally.  

    His shop only sells nicotine and non-nicotine vaping liquid.  

    He said his team strict about not selling to anyone underage and he welcomes parents to stop by the shop to learn what to look out for.  

    "I grew up in this town. My wife lives in this town. My son and daughter go to these schools and I don't want to see them get caught up in this type of situation." Beazley added, "We want to show them what is out there so they know what to look for because if we don't, they know what to look for because if we don't they are doing to look right over it." 

    In April, Nassau deputies arrested 20-year-old Joseph Hamza of Callhan.  

    The sheriff said he was a major player in putting illegal vapes on local streets.  

    Deputies said the suspect's stash included 126 vape pens cartridges with THC. 

    So how is the THC that is illegal in Florida getting here?

    Sheriff Leeper believes it is coming from the states where recreational marijuana is legal.  

    The sheriff said people are buying it there and bringing into Nassau County and Florida. 

    Another concern, investigators say kids could get a hold of THC vapes that are laced or have an extremely high potency. 

    "He continued to vomit in the bathroom and passed out until someone came in and found him."

    Georgia mother Lacey Turner said her 16-year-old son collapsed at school and nearly died after taking one hit of THC vaping wax.  

    Turner said, Cognitively, he was completely disassociated. You pretty much had to slap him and get him to open his eyes."

    Sheriff Leeper said, "These people just want to sell stuff they don't care about what happens to you afterwards."

    The Sheriff wants parents to make it their business to learn about vaping and what their kids are up to.

     "Parents need to be the child's cop. You need to be suspicious.  Trust but verify," said Sheriff Leeper. 

    Mom Jacquelyn Johnson agreed, "If you don't have a child that comes to you with a concern you have to force yourself in there. Be aware and be present at all times."

    Click here for a guide to talk to your children about e-cigarettes and vaping.  You can download or print it and share it with other parents. 

    Next Up: