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Utah’s health departments are planning to flex more muscle in its attempts to regulate the growing vaping culture.

When it comes to sales to minors, local authorities plan to crackdown and become a stronger watchdog, according to the Standard-Examiner of Ogden, Utah.

The extra leverage came in the form of a house bill (HB 324), which the Utah Legislature worked on during this year’s session.

Over the past six years, health officials have struggled to match its regulatory efforts with the rate of industry growth.

Since vaping devices made their first major impact in 2012, Utah officials have analyzed communities such has Weber County, which possesses one of the state’s highest teen vaping averages.

Last year, 29.9 percent of Weber-Morgan-area teenagers vaped. That is 6.8 percent higher than the state average, according to Standard-Examiner.

While its illegal for any retailers in Utah to sell vaping products to individuals who are not at least 18 years old, the health officials enforcing this Utah vaping crackdown plan to utilize their new authority and be tougher on violators, the Standard-Examiner reported.

“A tobacco product in hands of the youth is a dangerous product,” local health official Bryce Sherwood said.

Sherwood serves as supervisor of Health Promotion at the Weber-Morgan Health Department in Utah.

Utah officials cite the decades-long research health departments executed to gain greater knowledge on health effects of traditional cigarettes. With vaping a relative newcomer, local health representatives feel they need more time to study potential risks, according to the Standard-Examiner.

“I know there were a lot of misconceptions that it’s just water vapor,” Weber-Morgan Health Department Executive Director Brian Bennion said. “A lot of youth, particularly, thought this is better than tobacco.”

“There’s still a lot of research that needs to be done.”

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