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March 7, 2013

Senate approves age limits for e-cigarettes

NORMAN — New products for delivering nicotine are not being addressed by current Oklahoma laws aimed at preventing children from using tobacco products. That would change if Senate Bill 802 becomes law.  Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Yukon, is the principal author of Senate Bill 802, which was approved by the full Senate on Wednesday 26 to 15.

“Right now there is nothing on the books to prevent a child from going to a kiosk at the mall and buying e-cigarettes or similar devices,” Johnson said.  “Senate Bill 802 would set a minimum age of 18.  The simple fact is these are nicotine products, and we need to do what we can to keep children from using them.”

SB 802 would include these products in the Prevention of Youth Access to Tobacco Act and require proof of age, such as a driver license in order to purchase e-cigarettes, also known as vapor products as well as other tobacco-derived products.  The measure also would place a five cent tax on the devices and set up penalties for retailers caught selling to those under the age of 18.

Johnson noted a website by an e-cigarette company carries this warning: “The nicotine solution is available, depending upon the manufacturer and model with a variety of concentrations of nicotine levels. It is important to note, that the concentrated nicotine is very dangerous, as nicotine is absorbed through the skin and can cause overdosing. It is critical to keep concentrated nicotine out of the reach of children and pets.”

“Some organizations that claim to be dedicated to promoting public health have recently come out against this bill, even though it would mean minors could continue buying these devices.  I believe this is because I opposed a measure in committee that I firmly believe was bad public policy,” Johnson said.  “I’m shocked that they would play politics with the lives of Oklahoma’s children.  Fortunately the majority of the Senate saw through their effort and SB 802 was approved and now moves forward to the House.  I urge their members to address this loophole in Oklahoma law and help us keep these products out of the hands of Oklahoma children.”

 

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