E-cigarettes, e-pipes, vapes
With more than 800 cases of vape-related lung injuries and sicknesses reported in the United States — including 12 deaths, according to the Center for Disease Control — local communities are taking steps to support new laws and warnings on vaping and e-cigarette products.
While no deaths have been reported thus far in the Northwoods due to vaping, vape and e-cigarette use and paraphernalia has been showing up more and more in schools with underage students, according to Northwoods Restorative Justice executive director Cookie Lough. Vilas County Teen Court’s Sharon Krause, with the Vilas County University of Wisconsin-Extension in youth education, also noted the program is seeing more of these products.
The Vilas County Health Department is aware of the upward trend and is working with the state to see what types of ordinances and codes they will update, though they are preparing on some changes to their own county code.
The Health Board plans to discuss options at October’s monthly meeting, noted Tammi Boers, Vilas County Health Department assistant director.
“The state is in the process of writing bills,” Boers observed. “It’s something we are thinking about as e-cigarettes are becoming more visible.”
Counties cannot preempt the state, nor the federal government, all bodies of which are examining varying bills on vaping.
Iron County Board chair Joe Pinardi noted the county district attorney’s office, health department and human service center is putting together an ordinance for the county board to review on county vaping devices and products.
At September’s meeting, supervisors unanimously supported an effort to raise Wisconsin’s smoking age to 21. Pinardi noted this could help keep tobacco out of schools.
The ages of 18 to 21 are a critical period when many smokers move from experimental smoking to regular, daily use, according to the resolution.
Eighteen states already have raised the legal sales age for buying and using tobacco to 21 and three-quarters of the adults favor changing the minimum age — including seven out of 10 smokers, the resolution reads.
The Hurley City Council last month added vaping to its own juvenile tobacco use city ordinance. There, the council entirely approved prohibiting individuals under 18 from purchasing or possessing tobacco and nicotine products, now including vaping paraphernalia.
The ordinance indicated that prior to passage, it was possible for juveniles to legally purchase certain versions of tobacco delivery products currently not regulated the same as tobacco.
“City of Hurley Common Council determines that prohibiting the sale, furnishing or giving away of vapor devices and products to minors and prohibiting the possession, purchasing and use of such devises and products is in the public interest and will promote the public health, safety and welfare,” the ordinance states.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Chiamulera with the Oneida County Health Department relayed their department is not currently reviewing any options or code changes regarding vaping.