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California Officials Making Life Tough For Vape Vendors

Electronic cigarette vendors are coming to grips with fresh regulations and an expensive licensing fee after new laws against vaping took effect Monday in California.

In order to sell an e-cigarette or vaping device in the state, vendors must now pay an annual licensing fee of $265. The fee must be paid on each individual location established by a business. The legislation took effect Jan. 1 and stems from a bill passed in May designed to bring e-cigarette devices under the same regulatory rules as traditional cigarettes. State health officials argue the laws are necessary to prevent unlicensed sales of all tobacco related products, especially to minors.

The new regulations prevent vendors from opening up stores within 500 feet of a school or playground, reports The Modesto Bee.

California health officials are particularly concerned with youth vaping, claiming e-cigarettes are a gateway to traditional smoking and could cause long-term health troubles for children in the state. The state increased the legal age to purchase tobacco products in June to 21, including e-cigarettes.

“California is taking a big step forward in preventing a new generation of young people from becoming addicted to nicotine,” Dr. Karen Smith, California Department of Public Health director, said in a statement last year. “The surge in e-cigarette use among teens and young adults is no accident. The tobacco industry’s aggressive marketing of e-cigarette gadgets and candy flavors is jeopardizing the health of our young people.”

While high school vaping sits at 13 percent nationally, use of cigarettes is dropping to historic lows. Between 2011 and 2015, the percentage of middle school smokers dropped from 4.3 percent to 2.3 percent. Smoking among high school students dropped from 15.8 percent to 9.3 percent. Some experts are critical of government officials for ignoring the positive impact vaping has on current smokers and the youth smoking rate.

Evidence to support claims that vaping is hooking youths on traditional tobacco is thin. The United Kingdom promotes the sale of e-cigarettes as a health conscious alternative to smoking.

E-cigarettes are 95 percent safer than traditional cigarettes, evidence suggests, because the majority of cancer causing chemicals are inhaled through smoke. A study found that nearly all of the 2.6 million e-cigarette users in the U.K. are former or current smokers, many using the device to quit.

Officials in California claim health experts in the state have identified 10 chemicals in liquid nicotine that are known to cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive harm.

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