Senate Bill 15 was sponsored by Sen. Gary Stevens and R-Kodiak, and has already been approved by the House Finance Committee. Existing state law already bans the sale of nicotine containing e-cigarettes to anyone under 19, but this bill would extend this ban further to include non-nicotine containing products.
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“It is also intuitive that vaping, like cigarette smoking, is inherently habit-forming,” wrote Stevens. “By continuing to not take action against this new trend, we send the message to our youth that these products are safe and appropriate to use.”
However, many public health and anti-smoking experts would agree that it is tragic that the ‘Gateway Theory’ is still spreading and informing policy, when it has been dispelled by numerous scientific studies.
Putting things in the right perspective
It is a well known fact, that most smokers have their first cigarettes in their early teens, and e-cigarettes are proven to be the most effective smoking cessation tools available to date. Therefore it would make sense to have the devices available as smoking cessation aids for adolescents who are already struggling with a tobacco addiction.
Does a ban on non-nicotine containing e-cigs make sense?
A study published on the American Journal of Preventive Medicine earlier this month, indicated that contrary to recent media reports, vaping is commonly prevalent only amongst smoking teens, in which case it is serving as a harm reduction tool. Looking at the situation from this perspective, banning non-nicotine containing products seems nonsensical.
In the meantime, Bill 15 goes to the House Rules Committee for scheduling, and an article on Juneau Empire.com pointed out that while normally this is a formality, given that House Rules Chairwoman Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, is known for holding smoking related bills, there is a good chance that this bill is dismissed.