Thursday, August 22, 2013

E-cigarettes targeted for state regulation

Winchester, MA —
As electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, grow in popularity, it is legal in most Massachusetts cities and towns for minors to buy the smoke-free products marketed as an alternative to traditional paper cigarettes.

Boston is one of about two dozen Massachusetts communities that prohibit store owners from selling the nicotine alternative to minors. But some owners say they assumed those restrictions were nationwide.

The Food and Drug Administration has yet to step in and regulate the decade-old products that appear to be gaining popularity. The FDA recently said it would issue guidelines later this year.

While waiting for the federal government to weigh in, a Boston lawmaker wants the state to make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes and other nicotine delivery products to anyone under 18 years old in Massachusetts.

Twelve states have passed legislation restricting e-cigarette sales in some way, including Colorado and Minnesota.

Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, D-Jamaica Plain, said current state laws are "silent" on electronic cigarettes and other products like it, and minors have easy access to them unless cities and towns take action. Sanchez wants statewide regulations, and filed a bill last week to prohibit sales to minors.