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To Vape or Not to Vape?

Hannah Chon and Alexis Bennett

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In California, the state updated its laws regarding tobacco, stating that “The sale of tobacco products or electronic smoking devices to persons under the age of 21 is prohibited.” This law came into effect early 2016.

The law previously allowed 18-year-olds to legally purchase tobacco products, but with the rise of e-cigarettes and an overall concern for societal health, the law has tightened. California Governor Jerry Brown has signed multiple bills in 2016 regarding smoking, one reason focusing on reducing the unknown harm that surrounds e-cigarettes for modern youth.

Smoking from electronic cigarettes is so new that even health experts don’t know the health consequences are from smoking them. Today’s youth has taken a liking to e-cigarettes, becoming an epidemic spread across Southern California, and particularly here in San Juan Capistrano.

But even with these new laws in place, how do teens still have easy access to e-cigarettes and all of the products sold with them?

To investigate this, we (Express Staff writers Hannah Chon and Alexis Bennett) tried buying e-cigarettes and tobacco products from three different stores across Orange County.  The motive was to see if access of tobacco products is easily accessible to minors in California as many say they are.

In all three locations (Ladera Ranch, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente), we walked up to the counter and asked to buy different kinds of products. As expected, we were both asked to show ID to confirm our ages. Obviously both under 21, we simply said we forgot our wallets in the car and left to avoid causing issues.

From our experience, employees in the area are dedicated to following the law, as they should be. Either that, or our faces aren’t fooling anyone. If students are using these products, it’s likely that they obtain it in various ways other than the method we tried.

It’s reassuring to discover that laws truly are being followed by store employees. As for any other stores that may not be, I guess we’ll never really know

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