Ohio Likely To Become First State To Prohibit E-Cigarette Sales To Minors

E-cigs are still in a strange regulatory no-man’s-land. They’re kind of like regular cigarettes, but they’re also kind of not. Can you use them in places where smoking’s not allowed? Do they fall under current laws restricting the sale of tobacco products to minors? Nobody really knows, yet. Nobody, that is, except the state of Ohio, where a bill regulating e-cigarette sales is now sitting on the governor’s desk.

As the Cleveland.com reports, the bill banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors succeeded in the Ohio state Senate this week, after passing the House in November. If the governor signs the bill into law, Ohio will become the first state to pass legislation restricting e-cigarette sales. (New York City regulates where they can be smoked, but not to whom they can be sold, and Los Angeles is considering a city-level sales restriction.)

The bill adds a provision for “alternative nicotine products” to Ohio’s restrictions on the sale of tobacco to minors. It forbids anyone under eighteen years of age, unless accompanied by an adult parent, spouse, or guardian, from purchasing, ordering, using, consuming, or possessing “cigarettes, other tobacco products, alternative nicotine products, or papers used to roll cigarettes.” The penalty for selling e-cigarettes to minors would be $1000 per violation.

The bill–supported by the Lorillard Tobacco Company, among others–met with opposition from the American Lung Association and American Cancer Society because of the new legal categories created for alternative nicotine products and electronic cigarettes. The new product category isn’t taxed at the same deliberately discouraging rate as tobacco products, and advocacy groups argue that encourages the use of e-cigs.

E-cigarettes are still somewhat of an unknown quantity as a nicotine-delivery product, but some have proven to be unsafe in other ways–namely, by exploding.

Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine was one of the attorneys general from 40 different states and territories that co-signed a letter asking the FDA to regulate e-cigarette sales at a federal level last year.

Bill to ban electronic cigarette sales to youth: How they voted [Cleveland.com]