Davis County teens campaign for stricter regulations on electronic cigarettes

Posted at 5:25 PM, Feb 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-12 19:25:58-05

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah -- Three high school seniors from Northern Davis County sat at the table with the Holladay City Council on a Thursday night, making their case using statistics and personal experience.

Their cause: getting strict regulations passed for electronic cigarettes.

The teens created a group called SAEV Utah, standing for Students Against Electronic Vaping.

“Our end goal is to get a law passed in the state of Utah that will restrict electronic cigarettes, but from city councils we're just asking that they pass a resolution saying that they support our coalition and the bill that will be presented by Representative Paul Ray," said Cade Hyde, a Davis High School Senior and SAEV Utah organizer.

Paul Ray is a Republican Representative from Clinton. His bill would classify e-cigarettes as a tobacco product, which would place an 86 percent tax on the products.

“The bill is about increasing the price point to decrease youth access,” Ray said.

Ray and the students from SAEV argue that e-cig use is becoming an epidemic among Utah adolescents.

“22,000 kids have reported using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. Now if you're not aware of numbers, that's 10 percent of our youth 8th through 12th grade,” said Davis High Senior McGyver Clark, citing a report from the Utah Department of Health.

But local e-cig and vaping suppliers say the students are working on the right goal in the wrong way.

“What the research clearly shows is that it is a gateway away from smoking rather than towards smoking,” said Aaron Frazier, Executive Director of the Utah Smoke Free Association.

Frazier argues that the entire point of the vaping industry is to help people stop smoking by switching to a far safer product. He says local stores strictly enforce the legal age to purchase, at 19 years old.

“We never encourage it for someone who has never smoked," he said. "This is a product specifically designed to break the chains of tobacco addiction."

Ray told FOX 13 he thinks his bill has a “50/50” chance to pass, saying it’s hard to increase any tax in an election year.