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story.lead_photo.caption Greg Plunkett, owner of Prime Time Vapor Shoppe on U.S. Highway 67 demonstrates the ID card reader all customers must get past to purchase legally. Photo by Junius Stone / Texarkana Gazette.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third of five stories about teen vaping.

 

Vape shops took the world by storm, offering a product with some of the draw of nicotine products like cigarettes and cigars, but without some of the nastier side effects.

However, the product has not been on shelves long and much is still unknown.

Also, issues have sprung up, from illegal youth usage to unauthorized bootleg products. Vape shops have to navigate all these waters in this world of new product and changing laws and perceptions.

"Generally, the average vape customer does tend to be younger," said Jim McGee, assistant manager at Puff n' Stuff on State Line Avenue. "IDing is our policy, but with the age demo of vape customers being younger, this means we have to be even more vigilant about it."

Greg Plunkett of Prime Time Vapor Shoppe on U.S. Highway 67 says his shop is extra vigilant about checking IDs. Customers have to have a legal identification to even purchase and they have a device on the premises to check the identification to make sure it is legitimate.

"We don't accept paper IDs, either," said Plunkett. "The machine can't check them and they are way too easy to fake. All you have to do is print one off."

McGee says he knows of people who try to resell vaping equipment. He says that sometimes happens through online outlets.

"Some may attempt to resell their stuff through online medium, to try to get around checks and regulations," he said.

Plunkett says his store is proactive against those who would try to purchase equipment, then resell it for those who are ineligible to vape.

""We've caught a few of those from time to time," he said. "We've in-store cameras, so we capture their image. Not only that, we spread it around to the other vape shops around town, so they know who to look out for."

McGee says he does vape personally and taking it on was a step up from what he did previously.

"I used to smoke a pipe," he said. "The tobacco I used had a high nicotine level and it messed up the inside of my mouth. I started vaping, it helped out with that. For that reason, I recommend it."

Plunkett says that as far as adult habits and practices go, there are worse things than vaping.

"These things that kids can't do by law, drinking, smoking, drugs, etc., the idea of my kid vaping would be the least of my worries," he said. "I still would not want them to do it. But comparatively speaking, it is the least of my worries. Smoking kills 480,000 people a year in the USA."

Plunkett goes further, seeking to offer information and advice to parents, teachers and school officials, as well as law enforcement.

"Anyone who wants information on vaping, our door is open. Come by any time, we will give you all kinds of information. Our store is inspected by the FDA and we do not sell THC cartridges or illegal bootlegs of devices or vaping fluid. No reputable vaping store would," he said.

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