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E-cigarettes: Ban on sales to minors and public indoor use approved in Senate

HB 2546 establishes rules to protect kids and public health
May 12, 2015

SALEM – The Senate approved legislation this morning to ban sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and extend the requirements of Oregon’s Indoor Clean Air Act to e-cigarette use. House Bill 2546 addresses the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, especially among youth, and sets state standards for a highly unregulated product.

“Manufacturers claim that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes, but there’s a lot we don’t know about these products. We must act to keep these products out of the hands of our kids,” said Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Beaverton), who co-carried the bill on the floor and is a family physician. “The Federal Drug Administration has already issued a warning about the potential health risks associated with e-cigarettes. House Bill 2546 lays the groundwork for protecting public health and preventing a new generation of nicotine-addicted kids.”

Additional provisions of HB 2546 will require e-cigarettes and their components to be sold in child-resistant safety packaging, and will prohibit ”vaping” of cannabinoids and other substances in e-cigarettes in public places and places of employment. The bill will also ask the Legislature to review this law in 2019 to ensure Oregon continues to take emerging science, labeling, and national packaging standards into consideration.

“New research on e-cigarettes emerges constantly, with little information about safe usage of these products,” said Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson (D-Gresham), who co-carried the bill on the floor and is a retired public health nurse. “These products are not emission free. Second hand aerosol emitted from e-cigarettes is not merely water vapor, but contains known carcinogens. Exposure to second hand e-cigarette smoke is a serious and increasingly prevalent public health concern.”

Currently, Oregon is one of only nine states that allow minors to purchase e-cigarettes, and there are no statewide restrictions on where e-cigarettes can be used. Two counties—Benton and Multnomah—have passed local ordinances with provisions similar to HB 2546. HB 2546 will now go to the House of Representatives for concurrence.