LANSING, MI (WLNS) – The Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would regulate who is able to get their hands on electronic cigarettes.
It’s a topic that has caused controversy between lawmakers and local health departments.
This bill bans anyone under the age of 18 to buy, sell, or even be in possession of e-cigarettes.
If they are, they will be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $50.
And while some say it’s a good thing, others dispute the bill saying it goes beyond keeping kids safe, because it would also keep the products from being regulated like tobacco.
“We will soon be the last state in the country that has not banned the sale to children,” Senator Rick Jones said. “All of the schools are reporting horrible problems with this product in the schools and they want to get rid of it.”
Michigan is among seven remaining states where minors can legally buy e-vapor products, which is one of the reasons why Senator Rick Jones is pushing for this bill.
However, in the past Governor Rick Snyder has continued to oppose this legislation, saying it would eliminate the products from being regulated like tobacco under state law.
But in the Senate today, lawmakers unanimously voted otherwise.
“It is not a cigarette.. It’s a nicotine delivery device.. Shouldn’t have these super high cigarette taxes on it,” Jones said.
But some local health departments disagree and are advocating against the bill saying it’s a health concern for not only kids, but for anyone who uses them.
“The issue is that the bill goes too far,” David Hodgkins said. “If it was just that part of it, then this would be a done deal and the American Heart Association would support it, however the issue is that the bill continues on and creates a carve out in the law from tobacco controlled laws, it creates a special exemption for these products.”
David Hodgkins, Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association says e-cigs should be regulated the same way tobacco is, simply because they look and act the same way.
“We do view these as a tobacco product,” Hodgkins said. “Nicotine is derived from tobacco and so we know that nicotine is a highly addictive substance, we believe that these could lead minors into trying other drugs.”
“An E-cigarette is a nicotine delivery device the same as nicotine gum or a nicotine patch,” Senator Jones said. “That’s what it is, it is not a tobacco cigarette.”
The bill now moves to the House for consideration, be sure to stay with 6 News for the very latest on this.