Law lets police check for minors inside vape shops, tobacco retailers

DES MOINES — Starting July 1, police won’t have to get a warrant to enter vape shops and stores that sell tobacco products and let customers use the products in the store.

The change is included in a bill that passed the legislature and has been signed into law by the governor. Representative Taylor Collins of Mediapolis said lawmakers heard concerns about potential underage drinking in lounges in the Iowa City area that do not have a liquor license, but do have a license to sell tobacco products.

“Unlike a liquor license, if you just have a tobacco license, the local police department does not currently have the same ability to walk through the establishment during business hours, ” Collins said during House debate of the legislation. “This bill addresses that issue by allowing law enforcement to enter an establishment that has a tobacco license if their product is consumed on site and it’s during business hours.”

Representative Eric Gjerde of Cedar Rapids said the law will provide a new measure of safety to neighbors of these shops. “One additional item that we were able to add, which I think adds to the bill, is to allow local public health departments also access to these establishments during normal business hours,” Gjerde said.

A warrant would still be required for a police search of private records, the shop’s office or any living quarters that might be attached to the business.