OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - With more than 450 cases of illnesses and at least five deaths nationwide being attributed to vaping, lawmakers, regulators and parents are calling for action.
Some vape shop operators on the Gulf Coast aren’t convinced this is the way to fix a potentially bigger issue.
“I think that vaping is an issue with children, but I think that even if they take out the different flavors, they’re still gonna vape. If they don’t vape, they’re gonna go to cigarettes, and cigarettes are more harmful," said Alyssa Sagenbrecht, manager of the Four Seasons Beer, Cigar and Tobacco in Ocean Springs.
Gaining access to tobacco and non-tobacco items isn’t overly difficult for today’s kids.
“They can get to it. They have access to it. No matter what anybody does, we can card. I mean, there is teenagers that are buying for the younger generations and distributing to them, me being personally one of those kids who was distributed to as a younger teenager with cigarettes versus vaping because it’s cheaper," Sagenbrecht said.
Taking away flavors or e-cigarettes altogether could mean former cigarette smokers would have to go back their old habit. Owner of Vaporio Charles Milosh is worried that the alternative is far worse.
“Ten million-plus vapers out there, and I would say that the vast majority of them use flavor to keep them off of cigarettes. You’ve got 300,000 people, roughly, die a year from tobacco. I think, if you eliminate all of these flavors, you’re left with just tobacco, and some will just choose to light up," Milosh told WLOX.
He said that, instead of the White House, the conversation needs to start at home.
“To me, it’s no different than flavored alcohol. You know, those same conversations that you would be having with your children about drinking and driving and that sort of thing, you should have with them about vaping," Milosh said.