On Oct. 15, Gov. Mike Parson signed Executive Order 19-18. The order plans to “educate, warn and deter the use of vaping devices among Missouri’s youth” using state-funded resources. The purpose of the bill is to cut down usage of vaping devices by educating citizens about the effects of devices. The order goes into effect 30 days from its signing.
As of Oct. 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 1,080 lung injury cases and 18 deaths across the country as a result of vaping. Three days later, Missouri was reported to have 22 cases of vaping related injuries, including one death. These, as well as previous reports, were what spurred Parson into signing Executive Order 19-18 for the future.
But the nationwide deterrence of vaping has been in action for a year. According to Juul’s website, last November it stopped the sale and distribution of its flavored pods to convenience stores across the country. This ban stopped the distribution of pods, but with so many shipped to retailers only now are they starting to run out.
Now minors can only buy tobacco and menthol-flavored pods at convenience stores and Juul’s website. Though any customer over 21 is able to purchase previously-available flavored pods online.
After logging on and creating an account on the website, customers must enter their birth date and the last four digits of their social security number. Once through, they are able to legally purchase flavored pods and have them shipped to their home.
A local Kum and Go employee, who asked for anonymity for the sake of her job, said Kum and Go will no longer carry non-menthol or tobacco-flavored Juul pods when the stock runs out. After the flavored pods run out, customers will have to legally buy them through the Juul website.
The same was true for many convenience stores in the Springfield area.
“Juul is taking everything except for tobacco and menthol products off the shelf inside of all Kum and Gos, at least in this area that I know of,” the employee said. “You can go online and purchase your Juuls and have them shipped to your house. It’s a convenient thing, because then you can have it shipped directly to your house instead of having to come to Kum and Go or Casey’s.”
Sophomore fashion design major Rylee Wingert said the scarcity of Juul pods has now been led to smoke cigarettes instead of vaping. She believes instead of discouraging minors from using tobacco products, the ban on Juul pods seems to have the opposite effect. By depriving consumers of flavored pods, it just turns them onto other tobacco products instead.
“I think that just makes kids smoke cigarettes more,” Wingert said. “I personally started smoking cigarettes because of this kind of ban, and the age raise too.”
Since Wingert is from outside of Springfield, her choice flavors are are only available near her home. She is only able to get said flavors during trips back, forcing her to “try to ration it for a month until I go home again.”
Executive Order 19-18 went into effect on Nov. 14. Resources from the departments of health and senior services, elementary and secondary education and public safety will continue to educate minors about the dangers of underage tobacco use.