Dimitris Agrafiotis, executive director of the Tennessee Smoke Free Association, spoke with Tennessean Opinion and Engagement Director David Plazas. Nashville Tennessean

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Dimitris Agrafiotis smoked for 23 years, unable to kick the habit despite many attempts and treatment alternatives.

That changed when he discovered vaping, or smoking e-cigarettes that vaporize nicotine instead of combusting it like regular cigarettes do. 

As executive director of the Tennessee Smoke Free Association, he represents “mom-and-pop” vape shops and has worked on regulations as well as fighting myths and threats to their businesses.

Those threats include vendors that sell products to minors, as some of the bigger companies have done, including Juul. 

That’s especially relevant now that a Stanford University study found that teens who vaped were five times more likely to become infected by COVID-19 than those who did not.

Agrafiotis said his association supported a state law banning sales of e-cigarettes and vaping products to anyone under 21.

He also said the lung diseases caused by e-cigarettes filled with cannabis oil caused officials nationwide unfairly to lump all vape vendors together. 

When he is not working, Agrafiotis and his family are doing home remodeling projects and streaming programs on Netflix, Amazon Prime or YouTube, including “America’s Most Wanted,” “Tiger King” and “Narcos.”

Op-Ed by Dimitris Agrafiotis: Vapor products can save lives by helping smokers quit

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David Plazas is the director of opinion and engagement for the USA TODAY Network –  Tennessee and an editorial board member of The Tennessean. Tweet to him at @davidplazas

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