New vaping law cracks down on underage sales in St. Louis County

What needs to be done about vaping and teens?

Fred Bodimer
May 16, 2019 - 9:44 am
teen using e-cigarette vaporizer

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — St. Louis County Executive Sam Page will sign a bill later today to crack down on the sale of vaping products to minors. 

The sale of tobacco or vaping products is already prohibited to people under age 21 in St. Louis County, but that doesn't mean it isn't happening — and this bill would increase penalties to retailers who fail to confirm the ages of customers making an e-cigarette or vaping purchase.

SSM Health Family Medicine Physician Dr. Jennifer Wessels said vaping is definitely dangerous for teens.

"There is nicotine or other chemicals they could be inhaling or injesting from e-cigarettes and other products like that," Dr. Wessels told KMOX. "The risks involved can be very similar to cigarette smoke or inhaling other chemicals or substances."

Related: County plans sting operations to crack down hard on vaping for minors

The director of the Missouri Poison Center at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital — Julie Weber — said these products do contain a lot of nicotine.

"It's very concentrated," said Weber. "And if you have these teens at parties, out late, or going onto a binge, they're getting a lot of nicotine absorbed into their body."

Weber said she doesn't think teens realize the dangers in vaping.

"I really don't think they do," Weber told KMOX. "And why I say that is because they are aware of nicotine and it's being toted as a safer product. But I don't think they're aware that in some of the different vaping products, Juul being one of them, they think it's zero nicotine when there's a very concentrated nicotine amount in those products."

So what needs to be done about vaping and teens?

"I really think we need to be talking to our children and bringing up the risks that are involved here," said Weber. "I think they're going to make their choices but I think it helps when they know their parents are aware of what's going on. I also think we just need to have that frank discussion with our kids that vaping could present a high risk for a seizure and other problems in their development. As we've been saying from the start of this, there's not a lot of information out there and as this continues, I believe we are going to keep hearing stories of the risks involved in vaping."

"I try to tell my parents and kids that it's best to stay away from them," said Dr. Wessels. "There's really no use for them in our kids and our children. They really should not be using them at all and it's really better if they just stay completely away from any device like that."

St. Louis County Executive Page will sign the bill into law Thursday afternoon at Hancock Senior High School in Lemay.

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