An employee of a smoke shop in Goodyear was cited after reportedly selling tobacco and vaping products to minors.
Goodyear police said its officers conducted a sting May 10 at Innovape Smoke Shop, 650 N. Estrella Pkwy in Goodyear. The Neighborhood Enforcement Team had received multiple complaints about this shop selling tobacco and vape pens to minors.
That night night, NET members saw multiple juveniles purchasing tobacco and vapes from Ramzy Asi, 20, an employee at the smoke shop.
Mr. Asi told investigators that he sold tobacco to underage children that night and that he does not always check for identification.
Mr. Asi was cited for providing tobacco to a minor.
Five minors, ages 15 to 17, were also cited for possession of tobacco. An adult was cited for drug paraphernalia while exiting the smoke shop.
All were subsequently released.
“In an effort to combat the nationwide vaping epidemic among children, the Goodyear Police Department takes the sale of tobacco and vaping products to underage minors seriously and will enforce the law to the fullest extent,” a release states.
Independent Newsmedia recently reported an 800% increase in the number of vaping citations among minors in Maricopa County. That is due in part to a rise in the popularity of vaping devices and e-cigarettes.
The American Cancer Society and Food and Drug Administration have stated underage vaping is an epidemic.
Use of e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, by high school students has jumped 78% since 2017, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it has jumped 48% among middle schoolers.
Maricopa County has seen a significant jump in underage vaping since 2016, when Valley justice courts saw only 27 citations. In 2018, there were 215 citations, a nearly 800% increase. The northwest Valley and southeast Valley have seen much of this activity, according to a public records request from Independent Newsmedia.