Confiscated vape pens

Though most of the vape pens conficated at Jackson Hole High School are simple and basic, Teton County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Roundy has caught kids with larger devices, called “vape mods,” which are more expensive and enhanced — or modified, hence the “mod” name — to include certain advanced features.

The school district has a simple message for the Jackson Town Council: Ban flavored vape pods.

At its regular monthly meeting Wednesday, the Teton County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees approved sending a letter to the Jackson Town Council imploring it to pass a townwide ban on the flavored nicotine-filled pods. The council has considered a draft ordinance that would do so, but it continued the discussion at a June meeting and hasn’t brought it up since.

“While we recognize that there are locations who are willing to sell flavored pods to youth and pods are readily available online to be delivered to P.O. boxes and home addresses, we believe that any efforts to curb the use of vaping amongst youth is a step worth taking,” the letter signed by board Chairwoman Betsy Carlin states.

Two important changes have been made to the draft ordinance since the Town Council considered the ban on flavored vape pods last month. The original draft included bans on other types of flavored smokeless tobacco, like chewing tobacco.

Business owners who sell tobacco have decried the entire effort, in particular the ban on flavored chew and other products like cigars.

“A complete ban of all flavored tobacco is not the answer,” Tobacco Row owner Brady Hayek wrote in a letter to the Town Council. “There are flavored cigars, smokeless tobacco and pipe tobacco that have been sold for decades at Tobacco Row without issue. ... This ban will severely impact my ability to stay in business.”

The effort to pass a ban is targeted toward curbing teen vaping, so the new draft contains a ban only on flavored vape pods. The district sees vaping and flavored pods as the primary focus, citing federal government research that found 81% of kids who vape say flavors are the reason they started the habit.

The second change increases the range of flavors that the ordinance would prohibit. Originally, the Town Council wasn’t planning on including menthol flavors. However, mint and menthol are two of the top-selling flavors for most vape companies, with 80% of Juul’s sales in the United States being those two flavors, according to The Washington Post. Hence, the new draft ordinance has menthol on the list of banned flavors.

Since continuing the discussion, the Town Council has not added it to a new meeting agenda. It will need three readings to become law, so at least several weeks will pass before that could happen.

If you ask school district administrators, it can’t come soon enough.

“Our kids are too important to continue offering this enticing addiction in our community,” their letter says. “We are seeking the support to ban the sale of flavored products and keep our students healthy.”

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

(1) comment

Richard Jones

If you really cared about the health of teens there would be an ordinance prohibiting the possession or use of vaping/e-cig devices for anyone under 18. It doesn't matter what's being vaped, the devices themselves would be illegal. Once one is hooked on the nicotine it doesn't matter what flavor it is. If access to vaping is restricted the vaper just switches to cigarettes. Limiting access to the devices works as a preventative to starting. Banning the device eliminates the problem of whether one was using nicotine/THC, etc. just possession of the device was the issue.

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