Tobacco And Vape Shops Don’t ID Teens, According To Undercover Research Findings

By Kelsey Marie


Half of tobacco and vape shops failed to check IDs of teenagers during an undercover operation in California.

Teens were able to purchase e-cigarettes and other tobacco products despite the state raising the legal purchasing age from 18 to 21.

The undercover researches got 18-and 19-year-old “decoys” to go into stores without an ID — they were told to tell the truth about their ages if asked by the store.

The teens then went into the stores and tried to purchase vape products ranging from e-cigarettes to e-liquids containing nicotine.

An undercover chaperone stood close by to see whether or not the store checked the teenager’s IDs.

According to the research published Monday in the JAMA Pediatrics Journal, almost half of the vape shops illegally sold their products to the teen decoys.

The research also concludes that liquor stores, pharmacies and supermarkets were much more likely to check IDs, making them less likely to approve illegal purchases.

The team of researchers consist of scientists from both the California Department of Public Health and Stanford University.

Vape shops were reportedly more likely to sell teenagers vape products than actual cigarettes.

Lisa Henriksen, co-author of the study and senior research scientist at the Stanford Prevention Research Center tells CNN, “one possibility may be that vape products cost more and they might have a higher profit margin for retailers, so the temptation is greater to sell.”

According to a report released last year, the use of e-cigarettes amongst teenagers has increased drastically.

Almost 40% of teens in the 12th grade say they use e-cigarette devices.

Many anti-tobacco supporters are questioning the recent law to raise the legal age for buying tobacco to 21.

Matthew L. Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free kids tells CNN, “raising the age is not enough and won’t work when tobacco and vape shops aren’t even checking IDs of young purchasers.”

California raised the legal age limit for purchasing tobacco products in 2016.

A survey by the researchers at the California Department of Public Health says that more than 98% of shops were aware of the new age limit seven months after it went into effect.

However, George Conley, president of the American Vaping Association says that “due to California’s recently enacted law raising the age to purchase tobacco and vaping products to 21, it is probable that those under 18 are less likely to successfully purchase than in the past, but retailers are still mistakenly selling products to adults between the ages of 18 and 21.”

Conley also states, “no youth sales should ever be permitted” — his group is in support of having mandatory ID scanners in stores.

Juul Labs, the leading vape manufacturer, also supports the age limit being raised to 21 and has advocated publicly via digital, print and radio ads. Juul also says that they have their own secret-shopper program which targets about 2,000 stores per month, ensuring IDs are checked upon purchasing tobacco products.

They have even debated on opening their Juul private retail stores which would check everyone’s IDs at the door. This came after they received scrutiny and a lawsuit by an attorney general in North Carolina who accused Juul of marketing their products to children.

“We need to commend the FDA for trying to solve the epidemic of young vaping by restricting the retail environment for these products”, says Lisa Henriksen, co-author of the undercover research findings.

Travel Noire

Kelsey Marie

Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie

Want more?

Get exclusive, unpublished tips from Travel Noire's CEO to help you get off the beaten path, into the hearts of locals and onto a better, more cultured life.

Calling All Procrastinating Travelers! Here Are 11 Last-Minute Destinations You Should Book Now

Calling All Procrastinating Travelers! Here Are 11 Last-Minute Destinations You Should Book Now

Being a last-minute traveler isn’t all that bad, especially during the months of February and March. Airlines suggest the best time for booking travel is during these two months to find the best deals.  February and March are considered to be “low season,” which means that many people aren’t traveling because of work or school. […]

Kelsey Marie

Best Soul Food Restaurants In Los Angeles

Best Soul Food Restaurants In Los Angeles

From longstanding hotspots to impressive newcomers, Los Angeles’ soul food scene is as varied as the menus that have made them famous. If you’re making your way to the west coast, bring your hot sauce and your appetite to these neighborhood favorites across the city of angels.   Dulan’s Soul Food Dulan’s on Crenshaw is […]

Leah Freeman-Haskin

These Are The 5 Things You Need To Know About Flying With Marijuana

These Are The 5 Things You Need To Know About Flying With Marijuana

The way society views marijuana is slowly but surely changing, with some states making possessing and using pot legal.  According to The Washington Post, there are currently 11 states, DC, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands that have legalized recreational marijuana. In addition, 33 states and DC have legalized the medical use of marijuana. There […]

Kelsey Marie