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SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, and local leaders held a news conference in the Capitol rotunda Friday to discuss threats allegedly made to local high school students lobbying for an e-cigarette tax.
Some student leaders from Students Against Electronic Vaping have received threats of physical harm from members of the Utah Vapor Association, the Utah Smoke Free Association, and other individuals on various social media posts and through direct messages, according to Ray.
Many of the threats seem to have come from adults, Ray said.
The Davis County Sheriff's Office and Kaysville Police Department have opened a joint investigation into the threats.
Cade Hyde, founder and chairman of SAEV, said the threats won't stop the group.
SAEV has collected more than 8,000 signatures and 15 city council resolutions in support of HB302, a bill that would place an 86 percent tax on e-cigarettes, Hyde said.
The bill has been met with fierce opposition from vaping supporters who say e-cigarettes help adults stop smoking.
Adults protesting the tax, including vape shop owners, attended a student rally in support of the e-cigarette legislation at the Capitol on Feb. 17.
Juliane Berglund, a student member of the Davis School District Board of Education, said students are supportive of the legislation because they have watched their friends become addicted to nicotine from e-cigarettes.
"Our fight is not whether or not it helps adults quit regular cigarettes. Our fight is strictly to protect youth," she said.
Contributing: Andrew Adams