FDA tightens rules for e-cigs, California raises age to buy tobacco products

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A big blow for the tobacco industry -- the government tightened rules for e-cigarettes nationwide and California raised the legal age to buy any tobacco products to 21.

The owner of San Francisco's Magic Dragon smoke shop kicked out some young customers for not having their IDs. The law states that anyone under 18 can't enter. That will change as of June 9 when California will raise the legal age to buy tobacco for smoking, dipping, chewing, and vaping from 18 to 21.

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Magic Dragon happens to be next to San Francisco State University.

"Considering we're near a college, it didn't help that we didn't get much of a buffer to adjust our business," said Naji Elkhuri with Magic Dragon Smoke Shop.

E-cigarettes are battery operated nicotine inhalers. A heating element boils the liquid until it becomes vapor, delivering nicotine without the tar and chemicals that cause cancer.

E-cigarettes helped David Loufas quit smoking traditional cigarettes.

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"You'll be able to tell as soon as you go out into the field and start running," he said. "I switched for eight months now and there aren't any more green loogies."

But researchers have warned that teens who vape are three times more likely to end up smoking regular cigarettes.

Professor Stanton Glantz is with UCSF's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. He says moving up the age to 21 was key.

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"And whereas most teenagers know somebody who is 18 who will go out and legally buy these products, most of them don't hang out with people who are 21," he said.

Therefore, making it harder to get their hands on these products.

The new law also prohibits e-cigarettes from being used in restaurants, bars, and places where smoking is banned.

"We are protecting our nation's children and teenagers," said an official with the FDA.

While not as aggressive as California's law, the FDA will now ban the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18. Some states have no restrictions.

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