For the first time ever, police have pressed charges against a teenager for possessing an electronic cigarette. The story first appeared in the Chicago Tribune and many were shocked to see that having an ecig could lead to actual criminal charges for a minor. While it appears that the ecig possession was tacked onto other more severe charges, it still marked a first for the industry.
As many cities around the United States are changing the laws to ban underage teens from purchasing electronic cigarettes, these rules are largely unenforced. However, for one Hoffman Estates kid, carrying around an ecig led to some serious consequences. According to police reports, a 20-year old and two minors were apprehended during the incident. The adult faced multiple charges at the time of arrest: identity theft, possession of drug paraphernalia and cannabis, possession of a stolen vehicle, and possession of alcohol by a minor.
The two minors were also charged. Police charges both teenage boys with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of cannabis. After finding an electronic cigarette on one of the kids, they tacked on a charge for possession of the vaping device. According to Illinois law, it is illegal to sell an ecig to any individual under the age of 18. Most jurisdictions will fine juveniles if they are spotted with ecigs. However, this teen is facing consequences far more serious.
Obviously, this situation was unique because the teen was in the wrong place with the wrong people. He was apparently in a stolen vehicle with plenty of marijuana and some sort of drug paraphernalia. It’s likely that the ecig would have gone unnoticed if police officers were not in the middle of charging him with the other crimes.
Even if this is an isolated incident, it serves as an important reminder to the vaping community. Lawmakers are taking ecigs seriously and we should too. Do you think the police officers went overboard by charging the teen with possession of an ecig? What is an appropriate way to enforce age restrictions for vaping?