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Clearing the smoke: The impact of tobacco laws on Door County youth

Posted at 5:44 PM, Oct 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-05 18:51:49-04
  • Video shows statistics on Tobacco law compliancy
  • Malcolm Spude, a Sales Associate at The Vape Shop in Srurgeon Bay says they scan I.D.s for all sales.
  • Federal Law says that tobacco sales are legal for those 21 and up but Wisconsin state law is 18 and up.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

The number of children vaping seems to be on the incline since the COVID-19 pandemic and state laws could be to blame. I’m your Door County neighborhood reporter Katlyn Holt with a look at how this issue is affecting the Door County community.

"Soon as we get to the counter. I ask for the I.D., and they look skiddish, and they're like, oh, well, I forgot it at home or it's in my buddy's car," said Spude.

Malcolm Spude is a Sales Associate at The Vape Shop in Sturgeon Bay. He says underage customers trying to buy, is something they see on a weekly basis.

"If they look young, you know, if you don't look over 30 I’m going to I.D. you and we do have an I.D. scanner." said Spude.

The Vape Shop checks to ensure their customers are following the 21 and up federal law for tobacco compliancy but it's hard to keep these addictive nicotine products out of the hands of Wisconsin youth when the state law is 18 and up.

Before December of 2019, the federal law was those 18 and up could purchase tobacco products.

"There was a change in the federal law. States have followed behind or have pulled into line with that T-21 Law. There are a few holdouts, Wisconsin is one of them," said Sinclair.

Timmie Sinclair, the Community Impact Coordinator for United Way of Door County, said the last T-18 check by the state, which occurred this past spring in Door County, didn't do as well as she hoped.

"So, we had an 18% failure rate in the county, meaning almost one in five. That's not good. I want that number to be zero," said Sinclair.

Sinclair says data from the CDC’s 2019 Youth Behavior Risk Survey gave a better look into children using these products in Door County.

"Our numbers for students who have ever vaped who have ever tried vaping or at sitting at almost 40% and students who are currently vaping or who are vaping regularly or vape regularly in the last 30 days is almost 20%,” said Sinclair.

For Spude, it’s about preventing the youth from using these harmful products at a young age.

"I don't like it, you know, and it's bad for me, but I made a poor decision when i was younger. I’m, you know, I’m taking hits for it being older," said Spude.

The next state compliancy check will be in 2024 but a specific date will not be announced.