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Coeur D'Alene Rep. Worries About E-Cigarette Sales to Minors

Nonini wants them out of the hands of children.

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UPDATE

The Idaho House voted unanimously, 68-0, approving the measure which would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Current Idaho law prohibits minors from buying or using tocacco, but doesn't cover e-ciagrettes.

The measure now heads to the Idaho Senate

ORIGINAL STORY

Coeur d'Alene Republican Rep. Bob Nonini says he wants to do something about unethical retailers who market electronic cigarettes to Idaho minors. He's upset enough to introduce legislation to ban sales of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18--a component currently missing in Food and Drug Administration guidelines.

"They come in all sorts of different sizes and shapes," said Lora Whalen, director of the Panhandle Health District as she passed out pink and purple e-cigarettes to the committee. "They can fit into all manner of pockets or in a child's locker."

The plastic cigarette-like devices use a heating element and liquid nicotine, often in flavors like bubblegum. Nonini's House Bill 405, as presented to the Health and Welfare Committee, would add e-cigarette restrictions to a statute that bans sales of tobacco products to people under the age of 18. The measure would also slap a $100 fine on retailers found guilty of selling the product or device to a minor, including online and mail-order retailers making shipments to Idaho addresses.

"The idea is to get them out of the hands of children," said Nonini. "I think they market these to children with all these flavors as an enticement to children to start smoking."

Democratic Rep. John Rusche of Lewiston and Republican Rep. Carlos Bilbao of Emmett suggested a more stringent statute against the devices, which Whalen called a "drug delivery system" capable of administering other contraband.

"I applaud you for bringing the legislation forward," said Rusche, a physician. "But I have to ask: Why are we allowing the sale of these devices at all?"

Nonini suggested the Legislature put that on the table in the future. For now, his bill moved through committee with a unanimous "do-pass" recommendation.