Oklahoma lawmaker aims to prevent youth access to e-cigarettes

By: Helen Headlee Email
By: Helen Headlee Email

ARDMORE, OK - E-cigarette stores like Taste-E-Vapes offer an alternative to actually lighting up a cigarette. E-cigarettes allow a user to breathe in flavored water vapor with their chosen level of nicotine, but only vaporizers marketed for therapeutic purposes are regulated by the FDA.

Currently there's no law stopping teenagers from buying e-cigarettes or the nicotine solution. That's why Oklahoma Senator Frank Simpson is trying to add to the Prevention of Youth Access to Tobacco Act.

"We're amending that to include e-cigarettes and any other nicotine delivery mechanisms, which would include vapor products," said Simpson.

The 2013 Oklahoma Youth Tobacco Survey said that nearly 8 percent of the state's high school students and almost 3 percent of middle schoolers have tried vaping.

Taste-E-Vapes owner Mike Whitson said minors have tried to buy from his stores before but his employees always ask to see ID for anyone who looks like they might be under 18.

"We don't want to target kids," said Whitson. "We don't want to encourage them in any way, shape or form. We don't want to encourage anyone to smoke."

Whitson said that none of his stores sell vaporizers or vaporizing products online. One reason for that is to prevent people that are under 18 from buying the products.

Senator Simpson hopes the bill will stop teenagers from picking up a nicotine habit and keep their health from going up in smoke.

"We need to give our youth as much of a chance as we can to have a good healthy start in life and I think preventing access to nicotine products is a great step in that direction," Simpson said.


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