Appleton considers banning minors from using or owning e-cigarettes

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Several teenagers and young adults in Wisconsin were hospitalized recently with severe lung problems related to vaping.

This year, many cities and towns in the Fox Valley have been taking steps to hinder vaping, particularly when it comes to minors. Now Appleton may be the next city to ban its youngest citizens from e-cigarettes.

“This really has turned into an epidemic that I think no one foresaw it was going to get to this point,” said Dr. Kelli Heindel, ThedaCare’s Medical Director of Primary Care.

Dr. Heindel says vaping is a major health issue.

“I think it really has not sunk in yet, particularly to kids but even adults, that there really are dangers with this,” said Heindel.

Especially when it comes to young adults.

“You can’t tell if it has nicotine, you don’t know what the additives are, you don’t know if they’re using CBD oil,” said Heindel. “You know, it’s a huge black box, which is pretty scary.”

Dr. Heindel believes one of the factors causing teenagers to vape is peer pressure.

“If one of their friends is doing it, it becomes more popular and all of a sudden in the schools it just takes off like wildfire,” said Heindel.

Now Appleton might take a big step towards putting that fire out. The licensing and safety committee passed a resolution that would help create a ban on vaping for minors.

“I think it’s a good thing,” said Heindel. “I think we’ve always historically in Appleton really prided ourselves on having a healthy population.”

If the common council passes the resolution later this week, city staff would draft an ordinance that would ban the possession and use of e-cigarettes by anyone under the age of 18.

“Basically we need to protect our kids,” said Heindel.

Heindel would like to see this become a state or even federal issue, but thinks the city level is a good start.

“It’s a public health issue that I think has gone unaddressed, and now it’s really reaching a crisis,” said Heindel. “So some folks have to start the conversation and make a stand.”

The resolution will be discussed at Wednesday’s common council meeting.