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Two Utah lawmakers target vaping industry, propose bans

(Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – The vaping industry could be hit hard in Utah if two lawmakers are able to get upcoming legislation passed.  They’re hoping to have all flavored e-cigarette juices banned, including mint and menthol.

Representative Paul Ray says, technically, refillable cartridges are already banned in Utah, but, this rule isn’t being enforced.  He says an independent lab test 12 different cartridges and ten of them tested positive for illegal drugs.

“When you get ten out of 12, that’s a pretty good indication that you’ve got a problem.  So, what I’m going to try to do is get money for a bigger study,” Ray says.

Technicians found four banned substances in just one refillable cartridge, alone.  Representative Eric Hutchings says the drugs included THC, meth and PCP.

“All of them were controlled substances.  None of them were legal, so, you couldn’t put them in [the cartridge] if you wanted to.  But, the point of it is, all I have to do is get you hooked on the vape oil and I can turn around and start selling you heroin, if I want to,” according to Hutchings.

He says the more they investigate these vape cartridges, the more they believe drug cartels are manipulating them, and the users have no idea.  Brian Besser with the DEA says this has them especially worried since 20 to 30 percent of Utah teens are vaping.

“That is a cause of concern for us because unknowingly, or unwittingly, using or abusing very, very hard illicit drugs when they thought it was a simple vape juice,” Besser says.

Representative Ray says his bill would only allow e-cigarettes to be used as a way to help people to quit smoking regular cigarettes.  He says he would ban the entire vaping industry, if he could.