On February 7, the Milwaukee Common Council unanimously voted to enact a six-month moratorium on new vape shops opening as the city explores long-term solutions to address the issue.
The moratorium is a big win in protecting the youth of our city from overexposure to harmful products. In Wisconsin, tobacco retailers are more likely to sell products near playgrounds and schools in low-income communities than in more affluent neighborhoods. Exposure to retail marketing is linked to kids starting to use tobacco, and it makes it harder for smokers to quit, as it normalizes tobacco use, triggers impulse purchase, and discourages quit attempts.
Nicotine in all its forms can harm a person’s mental health. Nicotine poses as a stress reliever, but it can make anxiety and depression worse, especially for young people. Exposure to retail marketing is linked to youth starting to use tobacco, and it makes it harder for smokers to quit, as it normalizes tobacco use, triggers impulse purchase, and discourages quit attempts.
At the same time we’re learning more about the harm posed by vaping, our Wisconsin youth seem to have easier access to vapes and traditional cigarettes. The Synar Survey is an annual statewide assessment of the rate at which retailers sell tobacco and vape products to underage customers. In 2022, this rate was 11.9%, more than double the pre-pandemic rate of 5.5%. With the rise of new products and an increase of sales to youth, it is a bold move on the Common Council’s part to prioritize the health of our youth and our community. We’ll keep you posted on this issue on Community Advocates Public Policy Institute’s Facebook page.