Are California Shop Owners Still Selling Vaping Products To Underage Buyers

underage and undercover Southern

California teenagers are helping to stop

the vaping epidemic by teaming up these

days with police tonight only the NBC 4

i-team shows you how police are putting

shop owners to the test here the test

will they sell to someone who isn't old

enough to buy investigative reporter

Lolita Lopez takes us along ok and our

decoys out looks like he's got a

violation let's see it in his hands yes

at store after store purchase this

teenager is buying vapes and other

tobacco products he has no business

getting his hands on this is a puff bar

it's similar to Joule vaping product

this is a watermelon flavored I team

with the LAPD watching their special

operation an effort to crackdown on

retailers selling to minors remember you

have to be 21 to buy tobacco products

how often are you seeing something like

this in underaged hands I would say

probably about half the time when we go

into a vape shop we're able to buy

something like this it works like this

police send in underage decoys teens who

want to be officers themselves we're

blurring this young man's face so we

don't blow his cover and what are stores

supposed to do when your decoy goes in

what we hope that they would do is

number one recognize that this is a very

youthful looking person and they would

immediately ask for ID and look at that

idea and verify the age sergeant

Fernando Garcia says in California it's

an easy thing to do any time they see an

ID that's poor to sell ID like this it

has a red line on it and they need to

check that red line because on that red

line it tells you when the kid turns 21

this market in South LA police say the

clerk never even asked for an ID and

there's something else that bothers them

shop that just sold

the underaged decoy is just right across

the street from high school correct and

that's for us that's a big concern

absolutely we want to make sure that

especially these locations are so close

to the high school are doing a good job

of checking IDs and verifying while we

are with police three out of five stores

end up selling to the teen none wanted

to talk with the eye team and those

stores aren't alone

the LAPD tells the i-team they're

underage decoys visited more than 2,200

locations across Los Angeles last year

499 of them broke the law that bothers

officers like Paul Strauss turns out

he's not just helping to stop teens from

getting their hands on baits and he's

also an anesthesiologist at cedars-sinai

dealing with those who end up getting

sick so you're seeing these lung

illnesses coming into your Hospital yeah

that's one and it's happening all over

and unfortunately it's young kids and

that means these officers and the

underage decoys will stay busy with a

warning to shop owners you never know

where they'll pop up next I think we're

headed in the right direction but we're

not quite there yet yeah and he says

part of that is about education and

enforcement they're really trying to

help people understand why they

shouldn't be selling to minors tobacco

to minors in the first place I'm curious

so what happens is the clerk who is

selling to the minor the clerk is

actually the person who gets the

citation and it can be up to a $1000

fine but here's the thing they can go to

court and actually go to a class which

then they're learning and getting

educated about why they shouldn't be

selling to minors and the dangers of

tobacco for young people I know like if

you get a ticket or something exactly so

what about the stores or the store

owners themselves yeah the stores are

also on the hook so the first time it's

a warning the second offense is a fine

in the third they cannot sell tobacco

products at all yeah thank you