Public Safety

11 businesses sold nicotine products to minors in Iowa City compliance check

Tobacco compliance checks came days before FDA announces crackdown on nicotine products

A woman exhales vapor from an electronic cigarette at The Vapor Spot vapor bar in Los Angeles, California March 4, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
A woman exhales vapor from an electronic cigarette at The Vapor Spot vapor bar in Los Angeles, California March 4, 2014. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

IOWA CITY — Just days before the Food and Drug Administration announced it was tightening restrictions on a variety of nicotine products, Iowa City police conducted tobacco sales law compliance checks at the 53 businesses licensed to sell nicotine products.

Working with plainclothes officers, underage people entered these businesses between Monday and Wednesday and attempted to purchase nicotine products.

The police department said 42 businesses refused to sell tobacco or other nicotine or vapor products to the underage buyers, while 11 businesses sold to them.

The businesses that failed the compliance checks were:

- Almost Paradise, 355 S Linn St.

- Black and Gold Vapors, 440 Kirkwood Ave.

- The Convenience Store, 106 S Linn St.

- Deli Mart, 206 E. Benton St.

- Deli Mart, 525 Highway 1 West

- Hawkeye Convenience, 2875 Commerce Drive

- Hy-Vee Gas, 260 Stevens Drive

- Kirkwood Liquor & Tobacco, 300 Kirkwood Ave.

- Kum & Go, 955 Mormon Trek Blvd.

- Kum & Go, 731 Riverside Drive

- Up in Smoke, 208 N Linn St.

The employees who sold tobacco products to the underage buyers were each charged with “employee selling tobacco to people under age 18,” a simple misdemeanor punishable by a $100 fine. The violation could also affect the businesses’ tobacco licenses.

The FDA announced Thursday that it intends to tighten tobacco enforcement, ban menthol cigarettes and many flavored small cigars, as well as sweet-flavored electronic cigarette liquid.

The actions come in response to findings released Thursday that show a dramatic increase in e-cigarette use among young people.

The data showed e-cigarette use increased by 78 percent among high school students and 48 percent among middle school students from 2017 and 2018.

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The total number of middle and high school students now using e-cigarettes rose to 3.6 million, an increase of 1.5 million students, according to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey released by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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