KENTUCKY (FOX19) - Kentucky officials have banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
Governor Steve Beshear ceremonially signed the bill into law on Monday that includes penalties for minors caught in possession of e-cigarettes, and fines for stores that sell them. Ohio and Indiana already have similar laws.
In our commitment to balanced news, those in favor of banning e-cigs for minors say the devices contain nicotine, which is addictive. On top of that, they say they're being marketed to young people, with flavors like Hawaiian Punch, bubble gum and cotton candy. Plus, they add, there are few studies looking at the chemicals in e-cigarettes, or long-term side effects.
On the other side, e-cigarette supporters say they are a less dangerous alternative to regular cigarettes, and that many of the vapors for these devices don't contain nicotine.
"You can't buy cigarettes until you're 18, so I feel that should be the same law with e-cigarettes," said Amy Cochran of Cincinnati.
As of Monday, Kentucky became the newest state with that law.
"Senate bill 109 prohibits the sale of nicotine, and non-nicotine devices to minors. That makes it clear that youth have no business with e-cigarettes of any kind," said (D) Gov. Steve Beshear.
Convenience stores, gas stations and liquor stores all over Kentucky sell these e-cigs.
"It doesn't really come as a shock to us. We've always did the 18 for tobacco, and we consider that product as being strictly nicotine. That's tobacco as well to us," said Eric Bollmann, an employee at D.E.P.'s Fine Wine in Fort Thomas.
Tobacco is Bollmann's career. He's in charge of buying it for D.E.P.'s. They've always checked IDs for e-cigarettes even before Beshear signed Monday's legislation.
"It's the same difference to me, or most anybody else. It is a cigarette. It's nicotine for that purpose," said Bollmann.
Health and safety is at the forefront of this age-restricting law. Beshear says Kentucky has the highest rate of youth smoking in the country. As part of an initiative for the state's health and safety called "kyhealthnow," cutting smoking rates by 10% over 5 years is a big part of that.
"Smoking-related diseases are killing our people. They're hurting school attendance and worker productivity, and they're substantially driving up healthcare costs," said Beshear.
To learn more about this law, and what it means for Kentucky, visit: http://migration.kentucky.gov/newsroom/governor/20140414ecigs.htm