New Indiana legislation looks to slow e-cigarette use among teens

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 2, 2015) – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, along with state lawmakers, is looking to curb an alarming new trend.

Tobacco, alcohol and marijuana use among teens are all down. A new trend though is taking off. E-cigarettes are being used by more teens now than ever before.

“This has taken the lion’s share of the market,” said Northside Cigar and Tobacco manager Jon Rogers.

Tobacco stores are seeing soaring sales of e-cigarettes; the less regulated, less expensive, and seemingly less harmful cigarette.

“It gives you a nice nicotine jolt and can keep you from smoking cigarettes,” said Rogers.

With no cigarette tax, the electronic alternatives, Rogers said, are flying off of store shelves.

But according to a University of Michigan study, for the first time ever, teens are using e-cigarettes more than traditional cigarettes, or any other tobacco product.

“We all refuse to stand by as a new generation gets hooked on nicotine,” said Indiana Attorney General, Greg Zoeller.

Zoeller announced support Friday for a bi-partisan sponsored bill that would regulate e-cigarettes at the same level as tobacco.

“It’s not just about taxes, it’s about youth access. If they see it, if it’s cheap and readily available, it’ll be doubling and doubling each year,” he said.

The law would aim to tax e-cigarettes at the same rate as conventional cigarettes, at 24 percent. Additionally, they would be regulated by the tobacco commission, they’d become a part of the statewide smoking ban, and it would be required that e-liquid containers be sold in child-resistant packaging.

“It’s kind of ridiculous how they put actual Kool-Aid flavors in them. I mean, it’s supposed to appeal to kids,” said Western Boone High School senior, Michael Noonan.

Sales of electronic cigarettes are prohibited to kids under 18. But as Noonan knows, there are ways around that.

“I know one specific and his father actually bought it for him and his father actually distributes them out to his family members,” he said.

A new nicotine addiction for a new generation, “They’re actually targeting the teens and the kids and we’re trying to stop them,” said Noonan.

The jury is still out though on how dangerous e-cigarettes may be. Ex-smokers, who use e-cigarettes to kick their tobacco habit, are worried this bill will just hurt e-cigarette users trying to become healthier.