KANSAS CITY, Mo. — According to federal data, more teens are getting hooked on vaporizers and e-cigarettes.
There’s a 75 percent increase since last year. The FDA is trying to put a stop to it. The agency is expected to ban flavored e-cigarette and vaporizer sales at gas stations and convenience stores.
“Children’s Mercy does have a number of adolescents that come in with a history of vaping,” Dr. Jennifer Lowry, with Children’s Mercy, said.
Lowry said a gas station ban is a good first step to keep kids healthy, and keep them away from nicotine.
If the expected ban goes through, gas stations and convenience stores will only be able to sell menthol and mint flavored e-cigarette products.
“A lot of adolescents don’t believe there is harm with it,” Lowry said on the high teen usage.
Lowry said because vaporizers and e-cigarettes are marketed as a way to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, teens don’t realize they are harmful.
“Because of that message that’s been getting out, adolescents then feel that it’s totally safe,” Lowry said. “So a conversation is first about how it’s not safe. That the amount of nicotine in it can cause harm. Not only from an addiction standpoint, but it increases your heart rate, your blood pressure, it can cause you to feel ill.”
But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, any amount of nicotine can hurt a child’s brain development. That’s one of many reasons why Dr. Jennifer Lowry with Children’s Mercy says an FDA ban of gas station sales of flavored e-cigs is a good idea.
“It’s about access and making sure our adolescents aren’t able to obtain it,” Lowry said.
If your teen is already vaping, there are ways to help them stop.
“It would vary based on what that person needs as far as counseling, tobacco assistance programs, whatever it may be,” Matt Martinek, Executive Director of the American Cancer Society in Kansas City said. “Each state has a quit line, a tobacco quit line, that’s a great place to start.”
In several cities on the Kansas and Missouri side, the age to buy any tobacco product is 21. Check this list for reference.
The American Vaping Association gave FOX4 this statement about the reported ban, saying in part, “No youth should vape…However, this reported move…will only serve to make it harder for adult smokers to switch.” Smoke shops won’t be impacted. But employees at metro smoke shops say to be fair to the gas stations and convenience stores.”
“I also want to make sure honestly, that the ban is appropriate,” Adam Hoelscher, employee at It’s a Dream Smoke Shop said. “That it doesn’t go after shops that are doing it legitimately. And that shops that make sure to take everyone’s IDs and check.”
The ban will also put tougher age verification restrictions on online sales of e-cigarettes.
The FDA has a public hearing on efforts to eliminate e-cigarette use in kids scheduled for early next month.