WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- School officials and other stakeholders in the issue of vaping among youth gathered Tuesday for an education session on the latest trends and research of vaping among youth, hosted by the Marathon County AOD Partnership and the Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition.
The forum's goal was to teach adults how to help teens recognize the dangers of vaping and nicotine addiction, as well as gaining knowledge about the latest products and trends in the field.
A marked trend recently has been the shift of industry leader Juul in targeting ads towards adults instead of youth--a change that Marathon County Health Department's public health educator Jenna Flynn says is too little, too late.
"They don't have to advertise; the youth are doing it for them," she noted. And while the ads are targeted differently, she called attention to the fact that no regulations yet exist to govern product placement, resulting in displays that showcase vaping products side by side with toys--one of which she showed was from Portage County, she said.
"Starting the conversation is probably the best first step that parents and youth advocates can do when addressing this issue," Flynn noted. "And letting the students and youth know that we're here as a resource rather than coming down on them, because the kids really aren't the enemy here."
The session, or 'Vape Debate', comes the same day vape customers must begin paying an excise tax on vaping fluids in Wisconsin, in addition to sales tax. According to a report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the Wisconsin excise tax is actually tied for lowest among the 20 or so states that collect it. Democrat governor Tony Evers originally proposed a 71% tax, but in the final budget, it was lowered to 5 cents for every milliliter of e-cigarette liquid.
That comes to $1.50 per 30 milliliter bottle, whereas under his original proposal, it would have been about $14 for the same bottle. Other states tax as high as 95%, according to the report.
"What we know about nicotine addiction is that a higher cost could potentially change behavior," prevention specialist Melissa Moore told NewsChannel 7. "But in the grand scheme of things, it's really just one piece that's needed to help prevent future generations from becoming addicted to that substance."
Resources for training youth about vaping