A new program will see two state agencies are working together to crack down on vaping among underage kids in Iowa.

State Trooper Vince Kurtz says the Patrol is working with the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (ABD) on the program called I-PLEDGE. “What we’re partnering together to work on is to make sure that Iowa teens are staying away from the nicotine vapor products, the alternative vapor products, until they are of legal age,” Kurtz says.  You must be over 18 to purchase vaping products.

Sergeant Kurtz says it is a two-part program.”We’re educating our vendors first of all to make sure they know who they can sell to, who they can’t sell to. And on top of the education there is an enforcement element as well. Our troopers across the state will be doing undercover checks of these business to make sure that the education is working and that everything is being done the way it should be,” Kurtz says.

Clerks who successfully complete and online training course and then pass an exam will become I-PLEDGE certified. This allows a retail establishment to use an affirmative defense against a civil penalty if the certified clerk makes and illegal sale. Kurtz says this program adds to the education and compliance programs they’ve been conducting for traditional tobacco products and alcohol for many years. He says vaping has really become an issue. “There are so many different products out there and it is something that people need to realize that it is still a health hazard and it goes right into the issue that we are going for here — that the proper people are using it and it is being distributed the right way,” according to Kurtz.

He says underage customers under the supervision of law officers will enter establishments and attempt to buy tobacco, alternative nicotine and vapor products. Clerks who make the illegal sale will be cited on the spot. He says the employees will hopefully have undergone the training and know what to do. “We’re not springing something on these local establishment that aren’t expecting anything,” he says. “So, the education and enforcement components go together.”

Criminal penalties for selling tobacco, alternative nicotine and vapor products to a minor include a $100 fine for first offense, a $250 fine for a second offense and a $500 fine for third and subsequent offenses.