E-cigarette youth ban advances

A state Senate panel advanced legislation Tuesday that would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to people under age 18.

State Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, said the nicotine-based products need to be kept out of the hands of children because of “negative health effects.”

Purchase of cigarettes and other tobacco products are banned for those under age 18, Gallot said.

But youth “are getting nicotine through these products,” Gallot said. He said the law has not kept up with technology.

“Although industry does not market to minors at all there’s nothing on the books to say they can’t have them,” said state Sen. Barrow Peacock, R-Shreveport.

The Senate Judiciary C Committee approved Gallot’s Senate Bill 12 and shipped it to the Senate floor for action.

The panel amended it to include a provision that would allow for use of a vapor pen or vapor stick for the administration of medicine.

State Sen. Bodi White, R-Central, said he knows people who use the e-cigarettes as a step down to quit smoking.

Gallot said there is no intent to stop adults from using the product, just minors because of the nicotine used.

Tonia Moore, of the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco Free Living, said there has been an increase in youth use of the electronic devices and products.

“Part of it is because they are not regulated,” Moore said. “We have been getting complaints from schools, parents and youth themselves.”

The federal Food and Drug Administration considers the e-cigarettes a tobacco product because they have the same nicotine as a cigarette.

Submitting cards of support for the measure were representatives of the Louisiana Society for Respiratory Care, the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Louisiana State Medical Society, the Louisiana Academy of Family Physicians and Ocshner Health.

The legislation adds to a state law that bans distribution of sample tobacco products to persons under age 18. Added to the ban would be “alternative nicotine products,” which are defined as products, including an electronic cigarette, that consist of or contain nicotine that can be ingested into the body by chewing, absorbing, dissolving, or inhaling, or by any other means.

Health officials nationally have become concerned of late not only about e-cigarettes but also products marketed with other names, such as vaping pens, that have been growing in popularity among youth.

At least 27 states have prohibited the sale of electronic cigarettes or vaping/alternative tobacco products to minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.