HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Connecticut's senior senator is leading his senate colleagues in urging health officials to curb an electronic cigarette epidemic.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal met with health officials at 10:30 a.m. on Friday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

Blumenthal said he and his fellow senators will be making the plea to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. They want Azar and his department to immediately work toward solutions.

Blumenthal said the HHS has failed to adequately respond to the epidemic.

He cited a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was released this week that showed tobacco product use among youth is increasing. The report blamed e-cigarettes.

Doctors said they they can have long term health effects and nicotine can damage a young brain.

“There is strong and consistent evidence that children who use e cigarettes are significantly more likely to use traditional cigarettes, a product that kills half of its long-term users," said Dr. Sandra Carbonari, American Academy of Pediatrics.

“So the question is what is the [Food and Drug Administration] doing about this epidemic and the answer is not enough," Blumenthal said. "Sadly, the answer is virtually nothing."

Blumenthal said a start would be banning flavored e-cigarettes, which he said appeal to teenagers.

“Any regulations you can stipulate for stronger laws on that, that would be fine with me," agreed Patti Berry of Rocky Hill.

Other people who spoke to Channel 3 did not have an opinion.

“I’m neutral on it," said Rinaldo Signorello of Wethersfield, "It’s not anything of my concern.”

Blumenthal also called for raising the purchase age, stronger enforcement and banning internet sales of e-cigarettes.

The hope as that those changes will curb the crisis.

Copyright 2019 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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