Electronic cigarettes are becoming ever so popular these days and as more and more vape shops open all across America it might become difficult for clerks to verify the legal age of all their customers, especially of minors using fake IDs.
There is much concern in Utah, where in the last few years as many as 79 youngsters ended up in the hospital suffering from nicotine poisoning. “At the first of this year we have half of all of last year’s calls and we are less than 3 months into it. So it seems to be rising quickly as far as a pediatric poison goes,” said Marty Malheiro, the Outreach Coordinator for the Utah Poison Control Center.
The situation has alerted the Utah Vapers Association, which is closely keeping an eye on things and wants to come up with a solution. “These [e-cigarettes] need to be treated no different than medicine. You got to be responsible and keep it up high,” said Aaron Frazier the founding director of Association.
It is for these frightening reasons that Grant Hiller, owner of iVape at 6546 S. State St. in Murray took some immediate precautions with Utah Vapers “Each one of those caps are child resistant so somebody under the age of 5 can’t necessarily grab it,”. Also, the Association, which represents 30 vape shops that sell electronic cigarettes, has been working with the Draper-based scanner manufacturer ‘ Code Corp.’ to come up with a small handheld scanner that can verify a person’s age by scanning the barcode on their driver license in an instant. It’s basically the same company and technology used at state liquor stores. This means that those who want to purchase nicotine based products and are not yet 19 years of age must really work hard on their counterfeiting skills.
"It’s a protective measure to take the human-mistake factor out of reading an ID," Aaron Frazier said. "Throughout the state of Utah, there is a growing problem in kids obtaining not only e-cigarettes but all tobacco products. We want to be part of the solution in combating that." He added.
The state of the art scanner is worth $550 and it can work both wirelessly or by being wired to a base. It scans the customer driver’s license via barcode and flashes a green light if he is over 19 or a red light if not. The legal age in Utah for smoking tobacco or e-cigarettes is 19 while the federal age limit is 18. The scanner is still undergoing tests at iVape. "We’re running it as a pilot for two or three weeks to make sure we work all of the bugs out of it," said Aaron "Then we’ll start requiring that all of our member retailers use this unit or some other form of electronic verification."
On the other hand, Grant Hiller is very content "We don’t have to do the math anymore," he said. "It’s very convenient and hassle-free and error-free."
This might just be the solution to the State’s problem. Utah is one of 28 states that ban the sale of ecigs to underage smokers. It is also the one of three States, along with North Dakota and New Jersey, in which e-cigarettes can’t be smoked indoors.