Violators could be fined.
Frederick, Md (KM). There’s a state new law for retailers who sell tobacco products, especially e-cigarettes and vaping products. As of October 1st, the sales of these products to minors is a criminal offense, subject to fines. It was a civil offense. Violators could face fines. “Both violations include penalties of $300 for a first offense; $1,000 for the second offense within a 24-month period; and $3,000 for each subsequent offense within a 24-month period,” says Todd Crum, the Prevention Program Administrator with the Frederick County Health Department.
Crum says e-cigarettes may not smell as bad as cigarettes or leave a stench on your clothes, but they are not a safe alternative to regular cigarettes. “E-cigarettes and vaping products come in a variety of flavors, making them taste better, smell better and thus seeming as a safer alternative to combustible cigarettes. However, these products still contain nicotine which is an addictive chemical,” he says.
And the smoke from vaping products is not safe either. “A common misperception many have with these products is the smoke is a vapor, when it fact it’s an aerosol which contains chemicals including diacetyl which causes a serious lung disease know as popcorn lung,” says Crum. Popcorn lung is where the tiny air sacks in our lungs become narrow, causing difficulty in breathing.
He says the purpose of the law is to restrict access young people have to e-cigarettes and vaping products. Crum says e-cigarettes usage among local teenagers has surpassed that of regular cigarettes. “According to 2016 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the use of traditional tobacco products is down for both middle and high school students in Frederick County. However, the survey shows teens are using e-cigarettes at a rate greater than traditional tobacco,” he says.
As part of the effort to keep minors away from tobacco and e-cigarettes, Crum says the Health Department works with the school system and the community to get the message out about the dangers of using these products. “These prevention efforts, including community outreach events, presentations within schools, and other partnerships provide tobacco-prevention messaging to educate youth and adults about the harmful affects of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and how to make health choices,” says Crum.
The Frederick County Health Department and law enforcement agencies also conduct Random Merchant Compliance Checks. “The purpose of these compliance checks efforts to insure merchants are ‘carding’ individuals who appear to be 27 or younger, and preventing the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to minors,” he says.
For more information about the Tobacco Merchant Compliance initiative with the Health Department, retailers can go on line to http://health.frederickcountymd.gov/TobaccoMerchants, or call the Department at 301-600-1755.
By Kevin McManus