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Letter: Raising the vaping age would be damaging to public health

I started smoking at the age of 17, back when cigarettes were 45 cents per pack. Now, at age 58, I can proudly say I have been cigarette free for the past 2 years. In trying to quit, I have exhausted every product out there - nicotine gums, patches, and lozenges, pills, counseling, etc. and nothing worked. I had just about given up hope until the day I walked into our local Detroit Lakes vape shop. There, I learned about the benefits of tobacco harm reduction, and got set up with my first vaporizer. On that day, my life changed forever.

For many years, my doctor warned me that I needed to quit smoking. I had cardiovascular issues - heart palpitations, irregular and rapid heartbeat. The stress and frustration surrounding my failure to quit smoking, wasn't helping either. Cardiovascular issues resulting in heart attack run in my family, and I was on a fast track to following suit.

Upon switching to vaping, I quit smoking. I was blown away at how easy and almost effortless it was. Immediately, my health issues began improving. Since making the switch, my heart palpitations have stopped, and my heart rate along with my breathing has slowed dramatically and leveled out. In fact, shortly after I switched to vaping, my doctor had me listed as a non-smoker, and still does to this very day.

When I first quit smoking, I was vaping at a nicotine strength of around forty milligrams. Over the past two years I have been able to scale down my nicotine consumption and am currently down to a three milligram strength. I am slowly working my way down to zero nicotine, at which point I will quit vaping all together.

All the people out there who have never struggled with smoking, know not of the hardships smoker's face on a day-to-day basis. I've witnessed public health groups and legislators try to equate vaping to smoking, treating them as one in the same. I can tell you from first hand experience (as can my doctor), that this is completely wrong. I urge anyone who is under this impression to research the subject thoroughly for themselves. Better yet, talk to any smoker who's found success with vaping, and just listen to their story. As far as I'm concerned, just having my health care provider's support, speaks volumes.

Restricting the use and availability of vapor products will only hurt the people that have been trying to better themselves, their health, and the ones they love. I am aware that the Detroit Lakes City Council is considering ordinance changes - proposed by tobacco-control groups - that impede on adult access and use of these products, and I vehemently urge them to vote this down.

These products are helping us smokers quit smoking, improve our lives, set better examples for our children, regain our health, and keeping us from going back to cigarettes. If shops are no longer able to help customers the way they helped me, I fear quit attempt success rates may fall. Furthermore, if the city prevents 18 - 20 year-old adult smokers and ex-smokers from accessing vapor products, they will be sending them back to smoking. If vaping had existed when I was 18, I could have saved myself from 38 years of tobacco related harm and expense.

I believe that by making the decision to switch from smoking to vaping, it has allowed me to live longer and most of all, be with the grandchildren I hope my daughter will someday have in the future.

Doug Demski

U.S. Air Force Veteran

Frazee, MN

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