Effort underway to regulate e-cigarettes

Mar 5, 2014

LANSING, MI (AP)--   There is an effort afoot in Lansing to regulate smokeless electronic cigarettes – and ban their sale to minors. But there is a difference of opinion on how to go about it. 

Credit Charles Platiau / Reuters

There does seem to be general agreement that minors should not be allowed to but e-cigarettes -- smokeless devices that use an electronic charge to deliver a nicotine-laced mist for the user to inhale. 

“Keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors is good for the health of those kids and for the public health,” says Dr. Matthew Davis, Michigan’s chief medical executive. Davis and Governor Rick Snyder also want e-cigarettes taxed like tobacco products and subject to smoke-free workplace and indoor clean air laws.

Davis says e-cigarettes and liquid refills should be classified as tobacco products “because they are derived from tobacco and the philosophy of their use is side by side with the use of tobacco cigarettes that have been such a source of so much illness and death.”          

But others say there’s still a lot that’s not known about e-cigarettes – including their value in helping people quit smoking.

“That’s the issue of whether we get something through to get them out of the hands of minors or whether we go through this protracted battle, and waiting for the feds and waiting for a decision as to whether or not it’s the same as a tobacco product,” says state Sen. Glenn Anderson (D-Westland). “And we chose not to fight that battle now and do the right thing and get them out of the hands of minors.” 

Anderson is one the sponsors of a package of bills in the Legislature to set up a separate set of regulations just for e-cigarettes. He says the question can always be re-visited later once more is known about the health effects of e-cigarettes, or the federal government classifies them as a tobacco product.