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Senator’s bill aims to keep electronic cigarettes away from kids

Smoke or no smoke, Sen. Carolyn Allen doesn’t want to see electronic cigarettes in kids’ mouths.

Allen, a Scottsdale Republican, is sponsoring a bill that would have so-called e-cigarettes join regular cigarettes and other tobacco products that can’t be sold to or possessed by those under 18.

“Why would we encourage anybody to play with cigarettes,” Allen said. “Especially young people?”

S1053, which would make selling electronic cigarettes to minors a petty offense, won preliminary approval Jan. 28 from the Senate Committee of the Whole, setting up a floor vote that would send it to the House.

Electronic cigarettes are battery powered and deliver a nicotine mist that users inhale. Various brands offer flavors such as vanilla and cherry as well as tastes similar to popular cigarette brands.

While companies offering electronic cigarettes contend they don’t promote them for minors, Greg Stanton, director of legislative affairs for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, said the facts don’t support that claim.

“When you put the flavors on them it is pretty obvious that they are being marketed to minors,” he said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year issued a warning against assuming that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to regular cigarettes, saying that a laboratory analysis found that they contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals. The agency attempted to regulate the product as an unapproved drug-delivery device, which would subject electronic cigarettes to stricter controls than tobacco products.

But earlier this month a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled against the FDA’s efforts, which included blocking some shipments of the product from abroad, saying the agency could regulate electronic cigarettes only as a tobacco product. The FDA has yet to announce its next step.

Colby Bower, Arizona government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said his group hopes the FDA will decide to ban electronic cigarettes.

“There is no evidence that these products are safe for anybody,” he said.

The Senate Commerce and Economic Development Committee endorsed the measure unanimously Jan. 19 despite a suggestion from Tim Vaske, the American Heart Association’s state director for government affairs, that lawmakers would legitimize the use of electronic cigarettes by restricting access.

“Electronic cigarettes should not be sold until the FDA has had a chance to investigate,” said Vaske, who added that his organization is neutral on the bill.

Ron MacDonald, a Scottsdale entrepreneur who has sold electronic cigarettes on the Internet since 2007, said in a telephone interview that he’d have no problem with a law against sales to minors. His Web site says “Must be 18 or older to purchase” at the very top.

“Personally, I just don’t think it’s right to sell nicotine to minors,” he said.

Gene Anderson, an employee of Smokefree Stix, which sells electronic cigarettes at a kiosk at Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe, said his company requires young-looking shoppers to show identification. He turns away those who aren’t 18.

“We don’t want to encourage young people to be using any form of nicotine because of the addictive qualities of it,” he said.

14 comments

  1. Any reasonable person is going to be against selling e-cigarettes to minors. But this argument that minors are being targeted because e-cigarettes come in flavors is ridiculous. Enjoying pleasant flavors is universal. Adults eat dessert, don’t they? And look at all the flavors alcoholic drinks offer. What flavor e-cigarettes *should* adults like? Liver & onions? Spinach?

    One of the reasons e-cigarettes are attractive to adult smokers is precisely because of the pleasant flavors. Many people who “vape” describe how, once they get used to the e-cigarette, tobacco cigarettes lose their appeal. Why on earth would we remove that choice for adults?

    The answer is to enforce laws prohibiting sales to minors–not to take away choices for adults.

  2. E-cigs are not supposed to be sold to minors. However, a teen is a teen and if they want one they will get their hands on it whether it’s legal or not.

  3. I use E cigs and am ALL for not letting minors buy. I wish i never started, but i did when i was 16 and am hooked now.

  4. Agreed they should be kept out of the hands of minors. They shouldn’t be a way to advocate smoking to minors, simply an alternative to those that are already allowed access to traditional cigarettes (adults). There’s no harm in giving alternatives and I don’t think you will find many e-cig manufacturers or sellers stancing differently.

  5. I am all for keeping them out of the reach of children!

  6. Some of the reasons e-cigarettes are attractive to adult smokers is precisely because of great flavors. Many people who vape describe how, once they get used to the e-cigarette, tobacco cigarettes lose their appeal and taste.

  7. The e cigarette’s thick vapor is an effective substitute for the smoke of a
    tobacco cigarette and nicotine is integrated into the vapor by preference, mimicking the actual experience to the t.

  8. I think that these e cigs should be used by people who already smoke or those who are trying to quit smoking. I don’t think it should be marketed towards children, that sounds a little unethical.

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