DECATUR — For retailers, they say one of the advantages of vaping is that the battery-powered devices are a way for addicts of traditional cigarettes to wean off nicotine over time. But in the view of health officials, the handheld machines and flavored vapors being produced present a true risk — especially for teens who get hooked.
The disconnect highlights one the issues surrounding vaping, a trend that has exploded in popularity in recent years. In places like Soy City Vape on South 36th Street in Decatur, shelves are filled with bottles of liquid and various handheld devices for inhaling the vaporized products, and owner Jeremy Tolladay helps customers navigate the options.
Vaping “allows you to cut down your nicotine at your own pace,” he said. “The habit of smoking is the hardest part of it in my opinion, so you still have your habit and cut down your nicotine.”
The store and many like it have strict policies to not sell to minors. The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, a trade group, also has outreach efforts.
But nationally, stats suggest the devices are ending up in the hands of those under 18, following years of decline in the usage of cigarettes and other tobacco products. The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently called teen use of e-cigarettes an “epidemic” and gave manufacturers 60 days to develop plans to stop underage use of their products.
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