LOUIS ó Evan Wright, 18, started smoking cigarettes and
cigars early in high school. He sometimes smoked three cigars
a night and began to have serious breathing problems, he said.
ago, he started vaping, which delivers nicotine in an
appealingly flavored aerosol without all the toxic chemicals
that come from burning tobacco. His breathing problems went
day, I get the urge to go buy a cigar or a pack of cigarettes,
but I pull out the vape and inhale the strawberry pina colada,
and Iím good to go," said Wright, of Des Peres, Mo.
heels of an ordinance that passed last Tuesday banning the
sale of both tobacco and vaping products to anyone under the
age of 21 in St. Louis County, vaping business owners say they
are worried less about their bottom line than about 18- to
21-year-olds no longer having the option to use vaping to quit
lot of them are vaping because they quit cigarettes,"
said Dru Fernandez, who owns Mape Vape in Maplewood, Mo.
"I donít know anybody who comes in here that starts
vaping because they think itís fun. Everybody that comes in
here, they tell you a story that they used to smoke."
said about 8 percent to 10 percent of his customers were ages
18-21. Heís not worried about the drop in customers when the
law goes into effect Dec. 1, he said. "My main concern is
the principle of this. A vapor product is not tobacco. You are
taking away the option for younger adults to have safer
alternatives than combustive tobacco."
products are seen the same by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, however. The agency recently extended
long-standing restrictions on cigarettes to vaping products,
also known as e-cigarettes. Minors were banned from buying the
products starting in August.
was in response to the growing number of teens vaping. Between
2011 and 2015, e-cigarette use rose from 1.5 percent to 16
percent among high school students, and from 0.6 percent to
5.3 percent among middle school students, federal figures
show. That means more than 3 million middle and high school
students vaped in 2015.
e-cigarettes are safer than conventional cigarettes or help
people quit smoking remains unclear because of the lack of
information on the new devices, according to the National
Institute on Drug Abuse.
are battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine and other
flavorings in a vapor instead of smoke. Because they deliver
nicotine without burning tobacco, they appear as a less toxic
alternative to cigarettes.
deadly health consequences associated with smoking, such as
cancer and heart disease, are linked to the inhalation of tar
and other chemicals produced by tobacco combustion. The
pleasurable, addictive properties are produced by nicotine.
dangers of nicotine alone are debatable. Some research
suggests nicotine may prime the brain to become addicted to
other substances, according to the drug abuse institute. A
California study suggests teens experimenting with vaping were
six times more likely than their peers to transition to
vapor also has been found to contain carcinogens and toxic
chemicals such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, as well as
metal nanoparticles with unknown consequences from repeated
Louis County is among 191 U.S. communities that have chosen to
ban the sale of vaping products to anyone under the age 21,
despite arguments by shop owners and former smokers that
e-cigarettes serve as smoking cessation devices. St. Louis
Mayor Francis Slay indicated on Twitter two weeks ago that he
would pursue similar legislation for the city.
physicians and health groups, such as the American Lung
Association and the American Heart Association, also supported
the county ordinance.
Louis County Councilman Sam Page said the ordinance "will
dramatically decrease smoking habits, and we will save kidsí
FEEL A LOT HEALTHIERí
the problems with e-cigarettes, however, major health
organizations in England have found that vaping is about 95
percent less hazardous than smoking.
while federal figures show vaping among teens has increased
since 2011, smoking tobacco has decreased: by 4.3 percent
among middle school students and by 15.8 percent among high
nine out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by the
age of 18, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Immethun, 20, of Fenton, Mo., said she started smoking
cigarettes when she was 17. She smoked a pack a day, and her
asthma worsened. When she started vaping nearly two years ago,
she quit smoking immediately.
just makes you feel so much better," Immethun said.
"I feel a lot healthier doing it."
Schwieger, 18, of Maplewood, started smoking cigarettes when
he was 14, also exacerbating his asthma. He began vaping about
six months ago and kicked his tobacco habit.
havenít used my inhaler since," Schwieger said. "Iíve
been able to play volleyball for three hours. Before I could
only play for one."
said many of his friends had also used vaping to quit smoking.
No one he knows has ever moved on to cigarettes after trying
vaping, he said, because vaping makes cigarettes so
Shepardson, 21, of St. Louis, started smoking as a freshman in
high school and switched to vaping when he turned 18. "I
havenít touched a cigarette in almost three years," he
said. "Vaping helped me quit."
young adults also criticize having their choice taken away. At
the age of 18, they can join the military, buy a gun, vote,
gamble, apply for a credit card, get married or be sentenced
I can put my life on the line," Wright said, "why
canít I inhale strawberry pina colada?"