Blue Springs has taken a modest but welcome step to get a handle on vaping. Like some other cities, it’s banned the sale of vaping products to those under 21.
This is a particular health concern. Vaping delivers strong doses of nicotine, and nicotine has effects on young brains that are still developing. The companies that sell these have dropped the candy-like flavors and promised to change the ways their products are marketed and sold, but the damage is done. Smoking has been on the downtrend for years, but now another generation has been hooked on nicotine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released stunning figures over the summer: One in four high school students and one in 10 middle school students vape. That’s 5 million kids. School administrators also have described a situation that’s all but out of control in their buildings. This is a public-health crisis.
The Blue Springs City Council vote on the new under-21 rule wasn’t unanimous, and one argument against it was that the state of Missouri should impose such a rule instead. Yes, it should – but it won’t, not with this General Assembly. So some cities have acted on their own. Given the agenda of inaction in Jefferson City, that’s appropriate.
Cities also have acted on their own to adopt “Tobacco 21,” that is, banning the sale of cigarettes to those under 21. Five of the six largest cities in the state – including Independence, Lee’s Summit and Kansas City – have signed on, but Blue Springs, Grain Valley and many others have not. According to the CDC, Missouri has among the higher rates of smoking in the country. That’s not an accident. It’s a function of policy. The policy needs to be better.