INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It’s currently illegal to sell e-cigarettes to a minor in Indiana but they are now more popular with kids in this state than combustible cigarettes are.
It’s the reason for a new crackdown.
The General Assembly will be asked this year to regulate e-cigarettes for the first time. That means taxes on vapor products and state permits for stores that sell them.
E-cigarettes are marketed as being safer than tobacco cigarettes. Western Boone High School student Michael Noonan says some kids fail to understand that there is still a risk.
“A few kids have actually gotten suspended from school for just pulling it out in class,” he said, “and they obviously think that it’s not an issue, so they just pull it out in class.”
Attorney General Greg Zoeller believes we could be on the verge of a new epidemic.
“So, we’re here today to stop this trend in it’s tracks,” said Zoeller at a Statehouse news conference, “and we all refuse to stand by as a new generation gets hooked on nicotine.”
State Representative Ed Clere is working with Zoeller to create a law that regulates e-cigarettes.
“They do present a tremendous new public health hazard,” he said.
Vapor store owner Dave Cohn says he doesn’t sell to minors.
“Nobody wants it to be in the hands of kids,” he said.
He also doesn’t object to child resistant packaging but says he’ll fight Representative Clere’s bill.
“The taxes is what’s going to be wierd,” said Cohn, “and just make it go underground.”
Zoeller would rather see action taken by the federal government but says he’s tired of waiting.
“Currently you can go into a vape shop,” he said, “and no one will tell you the risks of addiction to nicotine.”
He says they sell e-cigarettes with flavors that include gummy bears and cotton candy.
The proposed taxes would amount to 24 percent of the cost of an e-cigarette. The money would be used to support the state’s tobacco cessation program.
The bill to establish those taxes has bi-partisan support.