The city of Los Angeles could soon make it a lot harder for you to buy flavored tobacco products, after concerns too many teens are getting hooked on vapes.
This is the latest effort to figure out a way to stop a spike in the number of teens vaping that the U.S. Surgeon General called an epidemic.
You have to be 21 years old to buy any kind of tobacco product, including vapes and the liquid nicotine that goes in them in California. That nicotine can come in flavors like bubble gum or menthol, and you can currently walk into any tobacco store in LA and buy them.
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"They're using e-cig flavors like blueberry smurf, unicorn sprinkles and animal cracker," said Amanda Staples, of the American Heart Association. "I'm not sure who the last person you talked to is that eats animal crackers but it's clearly targeted to kids."
Even though the law prevents it, health experts say too many teens are enticed by the appealing flavors and are getting their hands on vaping devices.
Ruth Martinez, a mother, said they look like pens.
"You know how easy it would be for somebody to sneak it into class and the teacher would never know?" she said.
Some of the electronic cigarettes hold up to 50 doses or more of nicotine. Doses in vapes can be stronger than one cigarette.
And the LA schools police say they are tracking an alarming spike in students found with vapes in school. From 2017-2018, there has been a 78 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high schoolers and a 48 percent jump among middle schoolers, according to the latest National Youth Tobacco Survey.
In response, companies like Juul have now voluntarily stopped selling certain flavors in stores. And San Francisco took it a step further, banning certain flavors altogether.
Now, LA is looking to potentially do the same. "I think they're trying to do the right thing, but I think they're doing it so wrong," said Fred Zahreddine, a tobacco store owner.
Some shop owners say that would ruin their business.
"It's my right to vape if I'm 21 years of age. If I'm an adult, it's my right to vape mango or watermelon or whatever the hell I want," Zahreddine said.
The vote Wednesday sends the proposal to the City Attorney who has to develop a plan on how any flavor restrictions would work in LA.