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Lawmakers look at regulations for e-cigarettes

Flickr user Lindsay Fox

Selling e-cigarettes to minors may be a federal crime, but a state lawmaker is continuing his crusade to make it a state crime as well.

Republican Senator Rick Jones has tried for several years to pass a law prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

Under federal law, stores can’t sell electronic cigarettes to people under 18. But Republican Senator Rick Jones says that isn’t enough. Jones introduced a bill that would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes or similar devices to minors.

“It would be very unusual for the feds to come in and do individual stings and stop stores from selling,” Jones said. “I want state police, county sheriffs, and city police to be able to come in and enforce this law.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services says the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect public health. The Department wants to see e-cigarettes regulated like tobacco in the same way the Food and Drug Administration recommends.

“It’s already illegal to sell to minors under 18 years old,” said Jennifer Eisner with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “So really this is legislation that’s not needed and we need to make sure that we’re making decisions in our state that are the best for public health.”

Eisner said e-cigarettes need to be treated as tobacco products and not separately regulated. Jones says this would include taxes on e-cigarettes – and that will not pass through this state legislature.