E-Cig Ban For Minors Clears Legislature Despite Objections

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More than two dozen Democrats in the House voted against the bill, saying it didn’t go far enough.(Photo: Flickr)
More than two dozen Democrats in the House voted against the bill, saying it didn’t go far enough.(Photo: Flickr)

Electronic cigarettes are a fairly new item on the market – they look like cigarettes, but don’t produce smoke or ash. But they’re also sparking debate on how they should be regulated and taxes.

A bill recently approved by state lawmakers puts e-cigarettes into a new category of alternative nicotine products, and says those products, like tobacco products, are off limits to kids under 18.

Rep. Stephanie Kunze of the Columbus suburb of Hilliard sponsored the bill, which she says was sparked by recent stats showing a doubling in the number of middle and high school students trying e-cigarettes.

Kunze says the new category is appropriate because, while most e-cigarettes do contain nicotine, there isn’t enough data to show that they are dangerous beyond the potential of nicotine addiction.

“Until these studies come out on the actual effects of e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products, I think it’s a little premature to lump them into a category that we have years and years of history on as being harmful,” Kunz says.

But more than two dozen Democrats in the House voted against the bill, saying it didn’t go far enough.

Rep. Nickie Antonio of the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood wanted e-cigarettes to be labeled, regulated and taxed just like regular cigarettes are.

“Should we find down the road that they’re not harmful, then give them a new category once the testing is in. So I guess my question is, why move so quickly now? Part of the reason, I believe, is that Big Tobacco is the sponsor of this bill and bills across the country.”

Kunze readily admits that Lorillard, the third largest cigarette maker in the country and a recent buyer of an electronic cigarette manufacturer, was involved in crafting this legislation.

But she says that was helpful so that the measure could address the latest alternative nicotine products, such as suckers and lozenges.

And she says there’s nothing in the bill that prevents changing the taxes on e-cigarettes when more studies are done on them.

“We don’t know how harmful they are. What if there’s a chemical in there that’s more harmful than a cigarette and we’ve settled on only taxing them at the rate of a traditional cigarette. We could have gone higher. So I think it’s important to realize we can still have that option even with the new definition and the new category.”

But Antonio points there are also no studies that show e-cigarettes or the vapor they produce is harmless, which is why she wanted them to be included in the state’s indoor smoking ban, or that they will help people quit their traditional cigarette habit.

“There is no conclusive evidence that they can be categorized as a smoking cessation aid. The other thing is, they’re also, because of this special category, are falling outside of the Indoor Clean Air Act.”

Kunze says when she started working on the bill to limit kids’ access to e-cigarettes last fall, it had the support of major anti-smoking health groups such as the American Cancer Society.

Antonio says that support fell off when e-cigarettes were put into the alternative nicotine products category instead of being regulated as tobacco products. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.

  • nathan

    Cigarettes cost about £0.04 to produce, so £0.80 for a 20 pack, most of the costs associated with a box of cigarettes (around £8.00 these days in UK) goes to our Government. These e-cig’s are eating into this bit of income – despite being a relatively young industry – and it will only continue, so of course they will push to ban them.

    The fact is is from the day i got my e-cigarette, i haven’t had a fag, and the liquid i use is 9mg of nicotine in 200 cigs worth of liquid – or 0.45mg per ONE INDIVIDUAL cigarette’s worth of liquid, HALF the amount of nicotine in one cigarette and with only organic ingredients making up the carrier, no carbon monoxide and also without the 700+ UNKNOWN CHEMICALS in legal cigarettes, which claim over 100,000 lives a year in the UK alone.

    You can bet your next months wages that once the big cigarette companies start churning out their own approved e-cigs (which will only be when the Government decides how much they will tax it) the media will be singing their praises!

    Without a doubt there are a lot of crap devices out their, and harmful liquids with little to no research, testing or policing of this industry, HOWEVER, there are plenty of manufacturers within UK & USA which are highly reputable and produce high quality products and thoroughly tested e-liquids with only organic ingredients. If you choose to save money by buying cheap imports from China or your local off licence counter, that MIGHT be risky. If you’re going through the proper channels, you will save a lot of money from your cigarette habit, and also get quite a cool device that’ll see you never touch a cigarette again.

  • bobbyk45248

    I will do everything in my power to help support e-cigarettes.

    I had smoked for over 21 years and couldn’t find anything that really helped me quit. That is, until a friend let me try his e-cig.

    Since that day over a month ago, I haven’t smoked a single cigarette. I feel like a new man now! I have so much more energy and can walk or even run up a flight of stairs without being out of breath.

    I truly feel that if I hadn’t stopped smoking, I would have died in the near future. The side effects from smoking were becoming overwhelming.

    My mom was a smoker for over 30 years and first started using her e-cig a bit over two weeks ago and hasn’t even smoked one cigarette since. She says she can already tell a dramatic difference for the better. I am so happy and proud of her!

    People, please do what you can to keep our government from unfairly and unjustly banning and/or taxing e-cigs.

    I promise to do whatever I can to help keep e-cigs from being wrongfully taxed and banned.

    Just because you may have a different personal view than I do doesn’t mean you should view e-cigs as bad. Please keep a neutral opinion and read more stories about all the people e-cigs have helped to stop smoking!

    If we stand together, we can make a difference!