December 21, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
33°F
 

Proposed ban on e-cigarette sales to minors may be covered already

Staff and wire reports

A bill up for vote today by the Ohio Senate would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. But a local store owner said he doesn’t know of anyone selling the devices to children.

“The worst thing you want to see is kids smoking,” said Michael’s Mini-Mart owner Mike Esber, who also serves as a Brunswick Hills Township trustee. “I’ve not heard of any stores selling these things to minors.”

Brandon Daniels, corporate spokesman for Marathon Petroleum Corporation, based in Ohio, said the same applied for Marathon and Speedway service stations.

“It’s always been our policy that the sale of tobacco products — including electronic cigarettes — requires the buyer t be 18 years of age or older,” Daniels said.

The bill aims to keep the products out of the hands of those younger than 18. It unanimously was approved Tuesday by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. Esber said the bill won’t affect him at his store, 327 Pearl Road, Brunswick Hills Township, because he’s never even had a minor attempt to purchase them.

“We don’t even have the kids asking for them. You don’t even have a clientele of kids asking for them. It’s only adults.”

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that provide users with aerosol puffs that contain nicotine, and sometimes flavorings like fruit, mint or chocolate.

The measure has raised some concerns from anti-smoking groups, such as the Ohio State Medical Association, because it defines the items as “alternative nicotine products” rather than tobacco-derived products. The cigarettes often have been described as a less dangerous alternative to regular cigarettes. But there are few studies exploring exactly what chemicals are in them, and in what concentrations, and whether those levels are harmful.

“No one’s proven they’re good or bad, but that doesn’t matter,” Esber said. “Most stores, I think, treat them like they do cigarettes.”

The Ohio House passed an earlier version of the bill.