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New efforts to crackdown on teens who vape and businesses who sell to them

SCOTT COUNTY, Iowa - Several law enforcement agencies are joining the effort to stop teens from using Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigs) to vape.

The Iowa State Patrol and Scott County Sheriff's Department are just two examples of agencies joining the I-Pledge Program's new effort to use an online program to train vendors, such as vape shops, how to enforce Iowa's tobacco laws.

In Iowa, a person must be at least 18 years old to purchase tobacco products, such as E-Cigs or Vape.

Still though, statistics show about 21% of high school students use E-Cigs nationwide.

From there, 20% of those who vape will go on to use another form of tobacco in their lives.

The principal at Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf says it is "very common" to catch teens using vaping on school grounds.

At PVHS, students who are caught using  E-Cigs are cited by the School Resource Officer, then given a 3-day out of school suspension.

Students who are caught with possession of E-Cigs but who are not vaping when caught are issued a citation and given a 1-day out of school suspension.

Principal Mike Zimmer tells News 8 the major concern right now is that many teens and parents don't fully understand the health risks associated with E-Cigs and vape.

Studies show that the nicotine in the devices is addictive and can lead to serious health issues.

Without the noticeable smell of cigarette smoke, officials say teens are able to hide their use of vape from parents easily.

"It probably is a little easier for the younger people to conceal and maybe hide it from their parents" said Iowa State Patrol Trooper Dan Loussaert. "If they’re not able to get it by buying it illegally, if we refuse those sales, then hopefully we can prevent some problems from happening as far as health problems with our younger people."

The new effort to train and check-in on local businesses who sell these products is an extension to the I-Pledge program, which has existed for nearly two decades.

The same program will be performing compliance checks on businesses that sell alcohol and cigarettes as well.

I-Pledge is run by The State of Iowa's Alcoholic and Tobacco Division.

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