TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — IU Health Arnett Pediatrician Dr. Marshall Criswell has seen the impact of teen vaping first hand.
“We’ve seen lung injury or irritation from vaping,” Criswell said. “We’ve also seen increased addiction to nicotine, in general, from vaping and kids.
He said one of the problems is not knowing that most e-cigarettes contain nicotine.
“So we know that it causes damage to the lungs,” Criswell explained. “That seems obvious you’re inhaling a substance that’s foreign and not good for you.”
Local vape shop co-owner Chad Myers said, even if a device contains zero nicotine, teens should not be using it.
“The act of vaping along is what is against the law,” Myers said. “It’s not what they’re vaping.”
Myers said his team at The Fog Foundry takes underage vaping very seriously.
“Obviously we follow all the state regulations and guidelines,” Myers explained. We go a step above and instead of carding an individual that looks 27 years of age or young, we years of age or younger.”
That includes educating staff.
“We’re very persistent on it with the training,” he added. “We teach our staff the signs to look for with fake IDs.”
The federal minimum age to vape is 21, but Myers said not everyone knows that.
He says family members have tried to buy without knowing the law.
“The biggest problem is going to be the juvenile’s siblings, cousins or even mother and father,” Myers explained. “They need to know the laws and know that it’s not okay to purchase for juveniles.”
A lot of the time, Myers says the buyer isn’t educated about the devices. That’s when his team is trained to ask if the device is for someone else.
If it’s being bought for someone underage, then the sale is a no-go.
“Unfortunately we can’t sell you that device,” said Myers.
He said another problem is convenience stores.
“One, they’re not educated on it,” explained. “A lot of people, when the federal law changed to 21, you could go into a gas station and the gas station attendant didn’t even know. Didn’t even know that the law had changed. They were still selling to 18-year-olds, and, you know, there’s still a high percentage of 18-year-olds in high school, and they’re buying them, taking them into the schools and selling them for a profit.”
He said vape shops have a lot more to lose if they don’t follow the law.
“If someone got their tobacco license taken at a convenience store, they still have 50 other items or more that they can sell to maintain a business,” Myers said. “If we get our license taken from us, we shut down.”
According to Criswell, teens who choose to vape have a lot to lose too.
“The brain in an adolescence is still forming,” Criswell explained. “So, still developing synopses and turning into that adult brain up until age 25, we know that nicotine can slow down those synapse formation, leading to learning difficulty, memory impairment, mood instability, and other problems.”
For resources to educate yourself on the risks of teen vaping, click here.