TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – As the popularity of electronic cigarettes raises, a bill is now headed to the Senate floor to prohibit the sale of the trendy slim metal tubes to minors.
On Thursday, the Appropriations Committee became the fourth committee to support a proposal that would add “nicotine dispensing devices” to the state’s prohibition on the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18.
The bill (SB224), proposed by Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Ft. Myers, would make it illegal for minors to possess such electronic cigarettes and products.
“If we don’t allow minors to buy cigarettes, we shouldn’t allow them to buy these products as well,” Benacquisto said.
If approved, Florida would become the 28th state to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. Of those states, Alabama, New Jersey and Utah set the age prohibition at 19.
The electronic cigarettes are seen by some as more acceptable than smoking, with the process involving a vaporizer to inhale nicotine that is often enhanced with flavors that range from simple vanilla, grape and banana to more-alluring cotton candy, peach schnapps, pina colada and bubblegum.
Regulators have debated whether the products are a step in helping people quit smoking or serve as a gateway to nicotine addiction.
The Senate measure would make it a second-degree misdemeanor to sell e-cigarettes and related products to minors. The proposal does not include nicotine patches.