JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri is taking a big step to fight teenage vaping. Governor Mike Parson signed an executive order last month to create a statewide campaign and now it’s a reality.
“To educate, warn and prevent the use of vaping devices among the youth of the state of Missouri,” Parson said.
Joined by leaders from the state departments of health, education, and public safety, the governor launched the Clean the Air campaign.
“We’re trying to change the trajectory. We know that the rate of youth vaping has doubled in the last two years and that’s true of Missouri as well,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health.
Teachers worry what vaping can do to a student’s brain. Margie Vandeven, with the Department of Education, spoke of the concerns of vaping and young people.
“Damage to areas of their developing brain that specialize in learning, attention and mood,” she said.
The state has come up with posters and public service announcements to educate young people and much of the education will take place on social media.
“We know that’s how teenagers in this day and age a large part of the time gather their information,” Dr. Williams said.
The Missouri Department of Public Safety has updated its website in an effort to crackdown on illegal vaping by teens.
“Make it easier for the public to report retailers that are selling to minors so we can investigate,” said Dottie Taylor, a DPS spokeswoman.
While the governor wants to protect kids, he’s not ready to commit to a law outlawing flavored vaping products, which some think makes vaping more attractive to young people. He said he’ll wait and see what kind of legislation lawmakers come up with next year.