True Story: My sister takes her pre-teen children into a local vape shop

I am a dedicated advocate of the vaping community, but I draw the line at taking pre-teen and other minor children into local vape shops. Am I being a vaping prude?

On a recent out-of-state trip to my mother’s small town in Kentucky, I had the delightful opportunity to spend quality time alone with my two nephews ages 10 and 12.  Since I only get to see them about once every 12-months, I decided to take for a visit to their favorite ice cream parlor.

After purchasing our double-dip sugar cones filled with mint chocolate chip and salted caramel chunk, my pre-adolescent cohorts and I starting walking around the downtown area, peeping into toy store windows because of the “no food allowed” signs posted on virtually every store shop window. 

Then we passed by a local vape shop.

To my immediate horror, my youngest nephew stated the following.

“Uncle Matt, let’s go in here!  I want to see if they have any cool flavors.”
What?  You can’t go in there.  You’re not old enough.  And what do you know about vaping flavors anyway,” I asked.
“I’m not a kid.  Mom (my sister) takes us to vape shops all the time.  She’s got something that smells like cinnamon waffles with maple syrup.  It’s really cool.  I wanna go inside and see what they’ve got!”

I was mortified.

I was disgusted.

And I did NOT take them inside the Kentucky vape shop.

Fortunately, the owner was responsible enough to also have a “We ID” sticker on the front door.  I also voiced my concerns to the children’s mother, which were not very well received, I might add.   

Full disclosure:  I do not “hide” my vaping from my nephews, but I definitely try to limit my vaping when in their presence.  I never vape indoors out of fear that my sweet-smelling vapor may become too appealing to their highly impressionable young minds. I usually vape outside on the patio while the kids are indoors playing their video games.  And after their bedtime, it’s a literal vape-fest!.

In the past few years, I have even managed to convince their mother (my sister) to quit smoking and switch to vaping.  So – in my mind – my occasional vaping in front of the children was “okay” because I was essentially sending a slightly more positive message that “smoking is bad.” 

But was I also simultaneously sending the less-heroic message that “vaping is cool?”  I wonder.

As adult vapers, do we have a responsibility to America’s youth by not romanticizing vaping in their presence?  Are we sending the wrong message by vaping in front of our kids?  Are we somehow complicit in this recent surge in juuling and underage vaping by turning an unintentional blind eye? Does the FDA actually have a point? 

Now, I am not condoning an FDA ban of flavored e-liquids.  I would never have quit smoking if not for my chocolate-covered strawberry e-juice.  Tobacco-flavors just don’t do it for me.

But just this past month, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb admitted in a Washington, DC, discussion panel on teen vaping that his agency is now considering a total and complete ban on ALL online e-cig sales, not just flavored e-liquids.  This ban would theoretically include everything from e-liquids to vape mods, coils, wicks, tanks, and every component imaginable.  His argument:  Vaping is a tobacco product, and it’s illegal to sell tobacco cigarettes online.  So, why not include vaping products, too?  

(Yes - I know.  Vaping is 100% tobacco-free, but that’s an argument for another time.)

The War on Vaping is getting really ugly really fast.  And the vaping community is losing, by the way. Prevention of underage vaping is not solely the responsibility of massive, international e-cig conglomerates like Juul and Atria.   It begins with us – the individual, kid-supportive, community-conscious, flavor-loving, online-purchasing American vaper.

Related Article:  BREAKING NEWS: FDA considers banning ALL online e-cig & vaping sales

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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