E-cigarette rules wrapped up in tobacco age-limit bill – The Daily News of Newburyport

BOSTON – Debate over raising the age to buy tobacco products to 21 has largely focused on the health risks of smoking and the ability of teenagers to obtain cigarettes from older friends but pending legislation also restricts certain smokeless and tobacco-free products.

In addition to increasing the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 and prohibiting tobacco sales at pharmacies, Rep. Paul McMurtry’s bill (H 2864) would also add e-cigarettes to the definition of a “tobacco product,” raise the age to purchase e-cigarettes to 21, and ban smokeless e-cigarette use in smoke-free workplaces.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that vaporize a liquid that contains nicotine and sometimes flavoring and allows the user to inhale the nicotine in vapor form, rather than with smoke.

Attorney General Maura Healey finalized regulations in 2015 banning the sale of e-cigs to anyone under the age of 18 and requiring childproof packaging for e-cigs and e-cig liquids but Massachusetts has not taken legislative action to regulate the fairly new alternative to traditional tobacco products.

As of early 2017, a dozen states have included e-cigarettes in their definitions of tobacco products, and seven states and the District of Columbia tax e-cigarettes and/or liquid nicotine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Among public health officials, e-cigarettes are particularly concerning because the flavorings could appeal to children or teens and as youth smoking rates have declined, the number of young people vaping nicotine has increased.

Dr. Lynda Young, a Worcester pediatrician who chairs the anti-smoking coalition Tobacco Free Mass., cited a December 2016 report from the surgeon general that described e-cig use among teenagers as “an emerging public health threat” and said e-cig use could do harm to people around the user.

“E-cigs are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth

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