Rick Marsten, who works for King of Vape in Fort Myers, said some gas stations and mom and pop shops aren’t “stringent about checking identification.” King of Vape sells popular products, such as the Vaporeso Renova ZERO Pod System, which lines across his shops in neatly placed glass cases.
Marsten is a big believer in electronic cigarettes and vape pens. He believes switching to e-cigarettes solved his cigarette addiction and has prevented him from an early death.
"I thought I was going to die with a cigarette in my hand," Marsten said.
Despite the health advantages e-cigarettes and vape pens have for adults in SWFL compared to traditional cigarettes, there is still a growing problem with these tobacco products.
While teenagers have been using traditional tobacco products significantly less than in previous years, more teens are picking up the habit of e-cigarettes or vape pens to get their nicotine fix.
Recently, Florida Youth Tobacco Survey found that e-cigarette use among Florida teenagers, between the ages of 11 to 17, has sharply increased in one year. The use of e-cigarettes has increased over 60 percent – from approximately 10 percent in 2017 to 16 percent in 2018.
The Food and Drug Administration is on a mission to start holding e-cigarette retailers accountable. The government agency said it will begin issuing warnings and fines to retailers who sell these products to minors. Fines will range anywhere between $280 to $11,000.
Marsten takes the operation of his local business seriously and intends to avoid the penalties of competing vape and e-cigarette stores. He makes it a point to request identification of anyone who looks underage that is seeking to purchase one of his products at King of Vape.
“If I find an employee not checking I.D.," Rick said, "there are repercussions.”
On the other hand, teens can easily get their hands on e-cigarettes and vape pens if they purchase them online.
In 2014, the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed in a study that under-aged teens were able to receive e-cigarettes they ordered online. JAMA found that delivery companies did not check identification for 95 percent of e-cigarettes deliveries. The package is just left on the doorstep.