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Attorney General wants to ban e-cigarette sales to minors

(Radio Iowa) – Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is calling on lawmakers to restrict the sale of electronic cigarettes in Iowa. “The most important thing that the state legislature needs to do is prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors,” Miller says.

The battery-powered devices heat liquid nicotine into a vapor, which is inhaled by the user. Many tobacco users switch to e-cigarettes when they’re indoors because they can be used in public places. Others turn to the electronic cigarette in hopes of quitting smoking.

Miller admits e-cigarettes don’t have the same cancer-causing agents as traditional cigarettes, but he still believes they present “real dangers.” “It is highly addictive, as the combustible cigarette is, around the use of nicotine,” Miller says. “By having the e-cigarette, more people might start smoking or not quit, than they otherwise would, and be addicted to nicotine.”

At a news conference in Cedar Rapids today, Miller urged state lawmakers to both restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and to include them in the Iowa Smokefree Air Act. Miller also believes they should be taxed at a higher rate than the state sales tax. “Whether they should taxed as much as the combustible cigarette, I’m not sure. That’s something the legislature should look at,” Miller said.

In September, Miller joined attorneys general from nearly 40 states in signing a letter to the FDA, urging the agency to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products. Miller expects the FDA to issue those regulations soon. Around 25 states already ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, according to Miller, and four states regulate the electronic cigarettes the same as traditional tobacco cigarettes – meaning they are not allowed for use in restaurants or bars and other public spaces.