Governor expected to sign e-cigarette ban for minors

Connecticut is poised to ban minors from buying or possessing e-cigarettes and other electronic smoking devices.

The state Senate and House unanimously passed a bill that would make it illegal for people under 18 to buy or possess e-cigarettes and for anyone to provide e-cigarettes to minors. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration proposed the measure and he is expected to sign it.

Under the proposal, minors who buy e-cigarettes or possess them in public can be fined up to $50 for a first offense and between $50 and $100 for offenses after that. Those who sell or give e-cigarettes to minors can face a fine of up to $200 for a first offense. The maximum fine increases for subsequent offenses.

E-cigarettes can be used to deliver nicotine or other substances to users. While proponents say e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking, anti-tobacco advocates worry they could be a gateway to smoking and contain harmful substances.

“By prohibiting the sale of e-cigs and other vapor products to minors, we are preventing our youth from engaging in behaviors that may lead to addiction to nicotine, or use of other more conventional tobacco products,” Malloy said in a statement after the House gave the measure final passage late Tuesday night.

Malloy added that the state can’t wait for the federal government to take action on e-cigarettes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently proposed a rule change that would allow it to regulate e-cigarettes, as well as ban their sale to minors, but that has not yet been finalized.

The bill also increases the amount of money the state’s Tobacco and Health Trust Fund can spend on anti-tobacco efforts, although it’s not clear if the money will be available because legislators took money from the fund to help balance the state budget.

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