Whether a smoker is trying to quit tobacco or just trying to be fashionable, you may have noticed more e-cigarettes being smoked or “vaped” in public.
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are a trendy, non-offensive way to display the panache of smoking without inhaling the chemically-laced nicotine from a tobacco cigarette. Though not entirely out of the woods in terms of heath dangers, e-cigarettes certainly pose less danger than traditional tobacco products. And because they are so cool, thanks in part to an aggressive advertising campaign, teenagers are taking up e-cigarettes.
Now in Tallahassee, a Senate panel has backed a bill that would ban the sale of e-cigs to teens or minors.
The thought is since minors cannot buy cigarettes why should they be able to buy e-cigarettes. The fake cigarettes actually are battery operated and contain a cartridge of liquid nicotine and a “vapor.” Smokers inhale and exhale the “smoke” but e-cigarettes have not entirely been deemed safe since the composition of the “other” ingredients is unknown and nicotine in any form is addictive.
The Miami Herald reports Senate Bill 224 has support in two committees and could wind up on the floor of the Florida Legislature when it convenes March 4. There is a House version of the proposal as well which also has committee support.
Many schools in South Florida have already taken action. There are bans in place in Weston, Sunrise and Lighthouse Point as well as by the Miami-Dade School Board on school property, reports the Miami Herald.
The bill comes just in time. E-cigarette retailers are seeing green through the smoke haze and a number of retailers have opened up such as T.D. Bowen in Tampa, reports the Tampa Bay Times. The paper profiles a former insurance agent who opened up Moon Mountain Vapor which is a lab that mixes nicotine-infused cocktails. Another retailer in Tampa, Vape Joe, says he caters to both the novice and the advanced user who can choose between producing a big cloud or a specific flavor. Nicotine is not always added to the liquid mixture. A Tarpon Springs company, White Cloud Electronic Cigarettes, claims it earned $15 million last year. In February there was even a Vaping Convention in Tampa where entrepreneurs compared their nicotine misting machines.
Consumer Affairs reports tobacco companies are shifting their advertising dollars increasingly to e-cigarettes. That’s because tobacco cigarette sales are actually in decline as noted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). And increasingly Big Tobacco is purchasing e-cigarette brands such as Blu (Lorillard) and Mark Ten (Altria Group).
Estimates are the e-cigarette industry could eclipse tradition cigarettes by the year 2023, according to an estimate by Bloomberg Industries.
With the jury still out on the safety, the Food and Drug Administration has sent out warning letters about manufacturers making unsubstantiated drug claims about the ability of e-cigarettes to help smokers quit tobacco.
If imposed, a state law banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors could cut into the profits of the $1.5 billion a year and growing industry.