There should be an immediate moratorium on the sale of flavored vaping projects in Columbia until the Columbia/Boone County Board of Health can draft legislation that permanently regulates the products, according to a board report to the Columbia City Council.

The City Council will hear the report at its Monday meeting. The board is asking for the immediate moratorium and permission to draft the permanent legislation.

The board cites two reasons for its request: the recent and dramatic rise of vaping by youth and the ongoing nationwide outbreak of lung injury associated with e-cigarette use.

In the single year from 2017 and 2018, e-cigarette use rose 78% among high school students and 48% among middle school students, according to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey. While there is no local survey data, the board said anecdotal evidence indicates e-cigarette use is common among youth in Columbia, even in schools.

One of the things that makes this stark rise in youth vaping so worrisome is the outbreak of lung injuries. As of Tuesday, there have been 1,888 vaping-related lung injuries and 37 deaths nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC is investigating the cause of these injuries, but that’s made difficult by the fact that only manufacturers know what chemicals their products contain, and no one knows how inhaling these chemicals affects human health.

The Board of Health voted unanimously to seek the moratorium, according to the letter from Chairman Mahree Fuller Skala.

“Locally, the passage of local Tobacco 21 and Tobacco Retail Licensure ordinances are significant steps toward restricting youth access, as is the appropriation of funds for a part-time enforcement officer,” Mahree Fuller Skala wrote. “However, the epidemics of youth vaping and serious lung injuries from vaping are moving very quickly and require a more urgent response.”

Also on the agenda for Monday’s meeting are:

  • The swearing in of Matthew Lue as Columbia’s new finance director.
  • Public comment from Ann Marie Long in support of Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas, who faces a misdemeanor charge for negotiating with developers for a donation to the Columbia Community Land Trust, an affordable housing group, in exchange for his support of their rezoning and annexation request.
  • Establishing the Columbia Sports Commission, a group responsible for promoting and bringing sporting teams and events to Columbia. The Convention and Visitors Bureau, which will create and operate the commission, hopes this will generate revenue for the city. Amateur sporting tournaments generated $11.6 billion nationwide in 2016, according to the National Association of Sports Commissions. Four cities in Missouri — St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Joplin— have sports commissions.
  • Public Life reporter, fall 2019 Studying Investigative Journalism Reach me at wksg8b@mail.missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 882-5700 You can also find me on twitter @WillSkipworth

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