Stop E-Cigarette Sales to Juveniles

Among the more than 1,100 businesses throughout the country being warned by the Food and Drug Administration to stop selling e-cigarettes to minors are 14 in West Virginia. Do the math: That represents a far higher per capita rate than the national average.

Working with local law enforcement agencies, the FDA conducted a massive sting operation earlier this year. Juveniles, accompanied by adults, were sent to stores in attempts to buy e-cigarettes. They were successful in an alarming number of attempts.

Though the FDA has not provided the names and locations of stores caught in the sting, local residents can have some confidence it did not happen here. On a regular basis, local law enforcement uses a similar method to catch retailers selling tobacco products to youngsters. It is rare that an offender is reported.

Still, the FDA’s success at 14 Mountain State businesses is both distressing and annoying. Here’s hoping local law enforcement agencies involved crack down more severely than the FDA.

It has been pointed out that e-cigarettes can be a good thing for some adults who already smoke and are trying to kick the habit.

But for juveniles who think there is no harm in e-cigarettes, a steady supply of them can lead to use of real cigarettes. Is it a problem? Yes. As many as 2.1 million minors in the United States use e-cigarettes, according to the FDA.

Adding to the peril is the fact some e-cigarette manufacturers distribute all sorts of flavors, including cotton candy and bubble gum. That can make it easier for some youngsters to take up the tobacco habit.

Store owners and clerks should be under no illusion: Sale of any form of tobacco, including e-cigarettes, to those under 18 is illegal in West Virginia.

Our state already has one of the highest percentages of tobacco users in the nation. Allowing unscrupulous retailers to risk getting a whole new generation hooked through e-cigarettes is simply unacceptable.


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