GREENSBORO, N.C. – E-Cigs deliver a quick hit of nicotine. Instead of smoke, e-cigs produce water vapor – earning the machine the nickname "vapes." They are hugely popular. There are more than one million e-cig smoking videos posted online so far. And e-cigs have spread right here to underage Triad teenagers.
"They like to do the tricks with it," one teen told 2 Wants To Know.
In North Carolina, e-cigs are just like regular cigarettes. If you're under 18, you can't buy them. So where are kids getting them? Often online.
"You can just buy it easy. And you can lie about your age," another teen told 2 Wants To Know.
To show you just how easy it is, 2 Wants To Know went shopping. We googled "buy e-cigs" and bought from the first three sellers that popped up. Monster Vapors, My vapor store, Provape. Then we added locally owned Lorillard's Blu E-cigs. The policies on all these sites state you have to be of legal smoking age to buy stuff. But the most I ever had to do to prove my age – was click a box like this – saying I was 18 or older. After that, I selected products with "high" doses of nicotine.
Entered my credit card information. And voila! Liquid nicotine showed up in the mail – some even reading on the bottle – "must be 18 years or older to purchase."
Out of the four companies two responded to our multiple requests for comment. ProVape and Lorilard's Blu eCigs wrote they use "age verification" software that scans all the buyer's info "to Confirm they are 18 years of age or older."
2 Wants To Know looked at all the possible information Provape and Blu Ecig's software could scan. It appears the only items which might reveal age are your email address or credit card number. So we ordered again from both websites. This time using a Gmail account – where a teen could easily lie about how old they are. And a prepaid visa gift card – where you don't have to give an age.
Lorilard's Blu eCig blocked our purchase. But liquid nicotine still showed up on our doorstep from Provape - meaning for a resourceful teen that age verification, might just be a smokescreen.
So what can be done? A federal law created in 2010 made it harder to order traditional tobacco products online. When the delivery driver shows up, you have to show your id. That applies to cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. But e-cigs are so new, they aren't named in the law – so you don't have to show your id. 2 Wants To Know is reaching out the legislators behind this law right now. We want to know if they'll add in eCigs. We'll let you know what we find out.