Miami Commissioners Consider Ban on E-Cigarette Sales to Minors

City of Miami commissioners are considering an ordinance that would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors

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    City of Miami commissioners are considering an ordinance that would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. NBC 6's Laura Rodriguez reports. (Published Thursday, Feb 13, 2014)

    City of Miami commissioners are considering an ordinance that would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.

    The ordinance would make it illegal to sell or give nicotine vaporizers, better known as e-cigarettes, to anyone under 18 years old, in the same way regular tobacco is regulated.

    It also includes liquid nicotine, and would prevent sales of e-cigarettes in vending machines.

    The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last September that use of the devices among middle and high school students doubled from 2011 to 2012. Eighty percent of those children who used e-cigs also said they smoked cigarettes, as well.

    "A lot of kids my age, you know, just like to show off," student Sebastian Gabriel said.

    Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that provide users with aerosol puffs that typically contain nicotine, and sometimes flavorings like fruit, mint or chocolate. They've often been described as a less dangerous alternative to regular cigarettes. But some disagree.

    "Reports that we have received, seems to be as dangerous as cigarettes itself," Commissioner Wilfredo Gort said. "I understand also that they have put liquid with a little flavor to sort of attract people under 18 and I don't think that's correct."

    These e-juices contain different levels of nicotine. At some stores, the highest level of nicotine sold in e-cigarettes is 24 milligrams, but some juices contain no nicotine at all.

    "For the smokers that aclready smoke, we wean them down to zero nicotine so that their body doesn't ask for the nicotine so much," said Daniel Ramos, owner of vapor shop RipTech.

    Some local vapor shops like RipTech said they don't sell to minors anyway. Labels on their e-cigarettes say you must be 18 or older to buy.

    "We always ask for an ID," Ramos said. "Picture ID, license."

    If the new law goes into effect, Ramos said it wouldn't have a negative impact on his business.

    "The market of smokers that are above 18 is just, the numbers are astronomical as far as what we are doing to help others," he said. "We don't need to be condoning younger people to smoke."

    Unlike regular cigarettes, the federal government does not regulate e-cigarettes, although several states have banned store sales to minors.

    Miami Commissioners were expected to discuss the ordinance at a meeting Thursday.