Actions by state and federal agencies to limit the availability of vaping products may have little effect on Wallowa County. Few retailers here sell them.

Oregon’s Democrat Gov. Kate Brown on Oct. 4 issued a 6-month ban on flavored vaping products to address the growing public health threat of vaping-related illnesses. But the Oregon Court of Appeals on Oct. 17 granted a temporary stay on Oregon Health Authority(OHA) rules enforcing the ban.

In Enterprise, the only stores found that sell vaping products were the Back Country Little Store, the Enterprise Chevron and Safeway. None in Wallowa said they sell them and all those asked in Joseph said they do not sell tobacco vaping products.

Thrive Organics, the only marijuana dispensary in the county, only sells marijuana vaping products that have been approved by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, according to the store manager, who declined to be identified.“We only sell products approved by the OLCC,” the Thrive Organics manager said.

Enterprise store managers emphasized that they do their best to ensure no underage vaping users make purchases at their establishments.

Little Store owner Tyson Samples said that most of his clientele for vaping products are tobacco smokers using vaping as a step toward quitting altogether. He agreed that the fruit flavors may indeed appeal to younger users. He said older vaping users tend toward regular tobacco or menthol flavors.

In December, the Congress passed legislation raising the national tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21. The OHA said that Oregon’s experience shows that raising the minimum age is not enough to stem the youth e-cigarette epidemic. As one of the first states to raise the tobacco purchase age to 21, Oregon still experienced a nearly 80% increase in youth e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2019. One in four Oregon 11th-graders report current use of e-cigarettes and vaping products like industry leader Juul.

While overall use of marijuana among Oregon youths has remained flat, the primary way they’re using the substance — vaping — has dramatically increased, an OHA analysis from October reported.

Youth vaping of marijuana increased 295 percent — from 11 percent to 44 percent among 11th-graders using marijuana — between 2017 and 2019, even as 11th-grade overall marijuana use stayed constant at 20 percent. The data come from Oregon Healthy Teens, a survey of middle- and high-school students that the OHA administers every two years.

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