A bill that would restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to minors is one step closer to becoming law. The Kentucky Senate passed the measure on a nearly unanimous vote, with only two Senators voting “no”.
The bill treats e-cigs like traditional tobacco products. Although e-cigs don’t contain tobacco, some people worry, and some studies have shown, that use of the devices could lead young people to start using tobacco. A similar bill is being considered by the Kentucky House.
While electronic cigarettes may be marketed as alternatives that will keep teenagers away from tobacco, a study suggests that may not be the case.
Trying e-cigarettes increased the odds that a teenager would also try tobacco cigarettes and become regular smokers, the study found. Those who said they had ever used an e-cigarette were six times more likely to try tobacco than ones who had never tried the e-cig.
The House Licensing and Occupations Committee advanced legislation Wednesday that would make it illegal to sell electronic cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18. Under House Bill 309, the devices would fall under the same rules as tobacco products. The bill is sponsored by Shively Democratic Rep. Joni Jenkins and now moves on to the full House for consideration.
When asked whether e-cigs would be taxed like tobacco products, Jenkins said she would defer to the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee.
E-cigarettes produce vaporized nicotine. NPR reported earlier this week on the popularity of the products for teens. Potential long term health effects from e-cigarettes are still unknown.
The director of the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center says electronic cigarettes are “quite harmful”. Dr. Mark Evers was answering questioned posed to him by lawmakers on the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee.
Dr. Evers says current research on e-cigs indicate that they may be “every bit as dangerous” as smoking tobacco. E-cigarettes deliver a vaporized solution that may or may not contain nicotine. Members of the committee say they’re trying to gauge the health impact of e-cigarettes because some local jails provide the devices to inmates at cost.
Part of the funding for the research comes from the 1998 tobacco settlement with 46 states including Kentucky.