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Palm Beach County Behavioral Health Coalition recognizes local student spreading awareness about youth vaping

Posted at 5:15 PM, Nov 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-08 19:19:53-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Schools in Palm Beach County are trying to combat a growing epidemic among teenagers: vaping. One student found that in order to do that, we should also be taking a look at where the vape shops are located.

Recognized for her countless hours of educating students and community members on vaping, Eeshani Behara is on her way to creating change in her community.

"My ultimate goal is to hopefully get some sort of ordinance passed to essentially have a limit on the distance between the shops and the schools and not allow sign flippers to be in such close proximity," said Behara.

The American Heritage School senior created a map to show the concentration of vape shops near middle and high schools in Palm Beach County and she's been presenting it at health conferences.

"I didn't realize how dense it was and how highly concentrated the shops were around schools," said Behara.

Alexa Lee runs the teen group at the Palm Beach County Behavioral Health Coalition. She said 17-year-old Behara is motivating the movers and shakers of cities and counties to take a closer look at what could be contributing to a growing vaping issues among teens.

"Not very many students would gather data and go and create a outlet density map to find out where all the vape shops are and how close they are to schools and the health impacts that that would cause on her peers as well as the community as a whole," said Alexa Lee, the Director of Programs at the Palm Beach County Behavioral Health Coalition.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said in a statement:

"It’s despicable that these tobacco companies continue to deny direct marketing efforts to teens but passive aggressively develop candy-flavored named products and that these shops are locating so closely to teenage populations. The issue of vaping has definitely caught the attention of leadership in our state Capitol and if the increased number of vaping and tobacco related lobbyist registrations are any indication, it looks like there is a battle brewing in Tallahassee. I just hope good public health policy emerges as the winner."

Vape shops are required to ask for identification and cannot sell vape products to anyone younger than 18. There is legislation that has been introduced to increase the age limit to 21.