FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - A Republican state lawmaker said he's confident a bill banning the sale of electronic cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18 will pass this year.
Rep. Brad Montell, R-Shelbyville, introduced legislation this week that includes fines for minors caught with E-cigarettes and the stores that provide them. Gov. Steve Beshear has endorsed a ban such as one already on the books in Indiana.
"We are serious about enforcing this," Montell said. "We don't feel like an addictive delivery device like an E-cigarette should be in the hands of a minor."
Under the bill, minors would face a $50 fine and 20 hours of community service for a first offense. It carries penalties of up to $2,500 for stores that sell the E-cigarettes, which contain nicotine, to minors.
Troy LeBlanc, the general manager of Derb 'E' Cigs in Jeffersontown, said he supported the proposal. He's opening a second store on Popular Level Road in February because of an increasing client list of ex-smokers, but LeBlanc said he doesn't sell to minors.
"We're not here to get people to use electronic cigarettes who are nonsmokers," he said. "We're here to offer smokers an alternative."
While LeBlanc said E-cigarettes don't contain tar or many chemicals that regular cigarettes do, the nicotine is still addictive.
"It seems to be really catching on now, particularly with the younger generation," Montell said. "We think it's better to wait until they're old enough to make those decisions (about whether to try something that's addictive)."
Montell said many stores have policies similar to LeBlanc's, where younger customers must show identification proving they're at least 18 years old.
"The toughest part is, after I turn them away, they're gonna go right back to that gas station that sells them (E-cigarettes)," LeBlanc said.
Customer Charles Hickman said he was skeptical about E-cigarettes at first, but they've helped him to kick his smoking habit for the past month.
Hickman agreed with the proposed ban, but said teenagers are going to continue to want to smoke -- and E-cigarettes are safer, he said.
"If parents are going to let their kids smoke, and they know they're smoking cigarettes, I think this (E-cigarettes) is the best way to go," he said.
The bill is currently in the House Licensing Committee.
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