Has underage vaping gotten so out of hand that companies will now add tracking chips to every vape, making them visible and traceable to law enforcement? It looks like this.
The source of this idea is also not someone you expect. Dave Morris, the creator of the Trace / Verify software, used to make e-liquids.
Now he sees his mission as a proactive advocate for vaping.
He wants to make sure vapes don’t fall into the hands of underage users.
How it works
Trace / Verify works by using an RFID chip installed in a device or e-liquid bottle or any vaping-related and age-prohibited item.
When an adult buyer purchases the item, they must present their state-issued ID to be scanned so that it can be stored on said chip.
If a minor user is then caught with the item, authorities can scan the chip to find the original buyer or seller.
This is how the system is supposed to work. The vanity is that the person whose information is stored on the chip will be held responsible (punished) for giving the object to a minor.
Only, what if the minor takes the object without the knowledge of the adult, will he always be held responsible, fined, arrested?
Nibble it in the bud
The chip is also supposed to eliminate straw buying, where a majority person buys a large number of vapes and then resells them to underage buyers. Morris cites a national youth tobacco survey that found that young vapers get their stock from adult buyers or people they know as inspiration to create his software.
The influence of adults is also one of the main reasons why underage vapers are curious about trying e-cigarettes. The same survey found that 30.8% of those polled said they had been tempted to try a vape because a friend or someone they knew was using it.
Of course, the chip is also supposed to target unscrupulous sellers who would sell to underage buyers.
But if the system requires a buyer to submit their ID for scanning, wouldn’t that already prevent a minor teenager from purchasing that item? Will a fake ID be treated the same as a real one? Otherwise, the Trace / Verify system performs the same function as a simple identity verification.
Morris was moved by his conscience to create this technology. As a member of the vape industry, he didn’t want to wash his hands of the underage vaping problem like many vape makers have done. Trace / Verify is his answer to a challenge to which the vaping industry as a whole is indifferent.
Its objectives are also interested. Trace / Verify software is one way to an end. The end isn’t to eliminate teen vaping, but to protect the industry and adult vapers from over-regulation. Morris considers the industry’s inaction to be self-sabotage. If it does nothing to curb underage vaping, the government will step in and do it for them, which has happened.
He declares it on his Facebook page. After writing that open system tanks and free flowing e-liquids will not be subject to the flavor ban, Morris says that
“It is more important than ever to live up to these expectations to avoid future over-regulation.”
Morris also writes about wanting to prevent a new epidemic of nicotine addicts. He also mentions that he wants to prevent people from returning to cigarettes or the black market, which would happen if the government steps in with even more restrictions.
Track / verify or track / spy?
Morris had said, in an interview with Vice, that he had privacy concerns when the software was initially created. However, the data collected by the chip is not of a sensitive nature. It only gives the name and status of the buyer. This information would only be useful to authorities wishing to trace the original purchaser.
Law enforcement agencies could then use this information in a DMV database to find the person’s address or workplace.
This raises the question of whether law enforcement will spend time and resources tracking down a person for what is at most a minor offense. There are laws that prohibit giving alcohol or drugs to a minor, but there are none to vape a minor.
Will vaping companies and customers connect?
The vape industry’s response to Trace / Verify ranges from lukewarm to positive. At the time of writing, only one company has said it will adopt Morris’ software and use the RFID chip on its products. It remains to be seen whether other vape makers will sign or not.
The response from vapers has also been lukewarm. Some say it’s a good idea, while others think it’s not. If the system were to be universally adopted, even adult vapers would have to show their ID to purchase a vaping product, which people might not want to do.
Should vape companies start installing chips in vapes to prevent underage vaping? Or is it an overreaction to an issue that could be dealt with effectively through regular identity checks and fines for violators, all of which exist right now. Let us know your thoughts on whether Big Brother should also be monitoring what you vape.