City adds vaping to tobacco ordinance

Measure to keep vaping devices out of minors’ hands

The Shawano Common Council unanimously approved Wednesday adding e-cigarettes and other vaping devices to an ordinance aimed at keeping tobacco out of the hands of minors.

Without discussion, the council voted to update the city ordinance to add vaping products to cigarettes and other tobacco products that could result in a fine if possessed or used by anyone under the age of 18.

The ordinance covers the purchase as well as possession or use of such product.

The rule applies more broadly to use on school property.

“No individual, regardless of age, who is enrolled in secondary school may possess or attempt to possess a tobacco product or vapor product while on school property,” the ordinance states.

The ordinance wouldn’t apply to employees who are minors in establishments where such products are sold if the sale is part of the term’s of the minor’s employment, nor to minors engaged in undercover compliance checks on businesses that those products.

A violation could bring a fine of $187, including court costs and other fees.

The Shawano County Board in December passed a similar ordinance that carried a fine of $150.

Supervisors at that meeting held a lengthy discussion of the growing popularity and dangers of vaping, which included the use of small vaping devices that could be used without attracting attention.

“This is a crisis, nationally,” Supervisor Peter Schmidt said at that meeting.

Schmidt brought attention in particular to the vaping device known as Juuls, which are about the size of a flash drive, and allow minors to vape without attracting attention.

“When these came out a few years ago, the teachers didn’t know what they were doing. They thought they were biting their nails,” Schmidt said. “This is something that’s very important. These kids are our future.”

According to a report released in December by the U.S. Surgeon General’s office, an estimated 3.6 million American teens are now using e-cigarettes, or one in five high school students. Federal figures also indicate twice as many high schoolers were vaping last year compared to 2017.