Opinion: Vaping helps Missouri quit smoking

By John Burns

It is no secret that many cigarette smokers wish to quit, but haven’t been able to. This incredible challenge has always been personal for me because I myself am a former smoker who struggled to quit, having tried every cessation means available prior with minimal to no success. This was the case for many years until I discovered vaping.

Vaping changed my life by helping me quit an expensive and unhealthy habit. I knew that smoking cigarettes was detrimental to my health which was conveyed by my physician. Without weaning myself off cigarettes through vaping, I was simply unable to quit for over 23 years. The addiction to cigarettes goes beyond just the nicotine and is just as much about the process of lighting up and smoking the cigarette. The reason vaping is so successful, is it too is a process that allows one to mirror the process of smoking without getting all the harmful constituents and chemicals. This is why vaping has been incredibly successful beyond abstinence, the patch, gum etc., etc. It is an amazing sight to see a 70-year-old woman whom has smoked for 55+ years, successfully get off cigarettes through vaping.

My success with quitting smoking through vaping inspired me to open up a vape shop in Fenton, MO in the hopes of helping other smokers enjoy the change in quality of life that I have experience. Unfortunately, lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere are trying to make it harder for Missourians to access these important products.

Without products to sell, my vape shop’s business will be severely hurt therefore hurting my ability to provide customers an effective way to quit smoking and pushing current people that vape back to cigarettes.

While vaping is a relatively new industry, it is already highly regulated and to date, I personally have over 4500 man hours meeting all FDA compliance and regulation. As a vape shop owner and e-liquid manufacturer, I have followed these regulations closely and adhered to every regulatory deadline incurred by the FDA. We have a zero-tolerance policy in regards to selling vapes to minors and support all the efforts to keep vapes out of minors’ hands, We have done so by implementing strict id policies supported by digital verification. Most shops like ours have restricted sales to minors for several years prior to regulatory requirements. It is frustrating to continue to receive more and more legislation from Washington, D.C. driven and influenced by special interest, that will hurt my and many other small businesses when we are already doing all we can to follow the regulations.

In addition to hurting small businesses, burdensome regulations tend to hurt the same cause they are supposedly attempting to solve the smoking epidemic. Banning one of the most effective ways to quit smoking is extremely counterintuitive and will do more harm than good in the long run.

I am calling on Senator-elect Hawley to look more holistically at the problem Washington regulators are trying to solve. As a former smoker, I am in complete support of helping others quit. Yet I am frustrated that our government’s attempt to do so not only hurts the cause but also hurts small businesses like my own. I strongly believe that Missourians can work together to fight against this unhealthy habit without eliminating an effective strategy to quit smoking or hurting small businesses.

John Burns is the owner of Stella Blues in metropolitan St. Louis