BELOIT (WKOW) — An ordinance designed to keep vaping devices out of kids’ hands went into effect in Beloit Wednesday thanks to hard work from five 16- and 17-year-old students.
“I think it definitely gave a different perspective and made the City Council look at it more seriously,” said Debbie Fischer, director of Youth2Youth.
Five girls from her organization spent months attending City Council meetings and presenting information about the dangers of vaping.
“I have to say at the beginning our youth thought that they could just come right into City Council and make this change, and they couldn’t understand why they took so long,” Fischer said.
But the girls persisted, and the ordinance passed the day school started.
Anyone under 18 with a vaping device can be fined $50 (plus court costs), and anywhere that was previously a no-smoking space is now a no-vaping space as well.
Fischer says hearing the information directly from kids made all the difference.
“They shared the way that youth that they know are vaping in school and how teachers just don’t know the information,” Fischer said. “And they also showed some of the products to City Council members which they hadn’t seen before.”
City of Beloit spokesperson Sarah Millard says the presentations from the students were the driving force behind the ordinance.
“Until Youth2Youth brought this forward, I didn’t know about some of the dangers that were associated with it,” she said.
Now, thanks to those students, the ordinance is already being put to use.
“This gives the school district a tool to say you can’t have it. It’s illegal in the City of Beloit for you to have this, so you can’t have it,” Millard said.
Fischer says the whole process is a great teaching process for the students, and it keeps their classmates safe, as well.
“When youth have the tools from adults to teach them how to do it and to do it in a strategic way, they really can have an impact,” she said.
The students will now be working with the city to develop stickers and posters to educate people about the new ordinance. The ordinance does not ban flavored liquids as President Donald Trump proposed Wednesday, but city officials say they would be open to reviewing the ordinance in the future.