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Vape shops could lose their licenses if they sell to kids under new bill

The Utah County Health Department has had a program for years to help parents and schools find vaping products, which are usually disguised as ordinary objects. Photo: CNN File

SALT LAKE CITY – A new bill advancing in the Utah legislature would let local health departments strip vape shops of their business licenses if they’re caught selling tobacco, vaping products, or paraphernalia to minors.

And it would not take long for them to lose their licenses.

Health departments could pull them if the shop sells a prohibited product only once during a compliance check.

Representative Karianne Lisonbee (R-Clearfield), who is sponsoring the bill, calls it a “zero-tolerance policy” that keeps illegal, addictive, and potentially dangerous products out of children’s hands while allowing adults to keep buying tobacco.

“We do not want to affect access to adults. This is a free country. If you want to vape, we’re not going to restrict your access. But, if you are a minor, we have laws. We should enforce the laws,” Lisonbee told a committee hearing at the State Capitol on Wednesday.

The bill would also require all vape shops to get health department permits and be subject to continuous checks.

Mark Waterson with the American Heart Association told lawmakers that the law could clamp down on the number of illegal vape shops in Utah that have been opening near homes and schools.

“These fake shops [are] pretending to be retailer[s] so that they can skirt around those proximity requirements, so they can set up closer to our homes and to the schools,” Waterson says.

The law would go into effect in June 2020 if passed.