LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - A bill banning the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors passed the house Friday but not without opposition.
Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat a liquid nicotine cartridge, producing a vapor that users inhale. They're marketed as the cigarette you can smoke anywhere - even inside. That's why they're often sold at kiosks inside malls.
The innovation is popular with many adults but some manufacturers are also marketing to minors. In Arkansas, it's okay for kids and teens to buy electronic cigarettes but Rep. Greg Leding (R-Fayetteville) wants to change that and asked the State House to help.
"We feel that if you have to be 18 to buy a real cigarette, you should be 18 to buy an e-cigarette," Leding said.
Most in the House agreed - the bill passed 76 - 8. One of the biggest complaints opponents had of the bill - which is backed by the Arkansas Department of Health - is that it only requires convenience stores to ID buyers, not kiosks, though it is still encouraged for them to do so.
Leding said he still believes the bill is enforceable because regardless of whether they ID or not, it's still illegal to sell to minors.
"It encourages businesses to put in place policies to train their employees, and that's something a court would consider if there were a violation."
Stores that do cell e-cigarettes to minors could face a $100 fine for each case. It also prohibits minors from possessing the products.
Another objection to the bill is that e-cigarettes are a tool some smokers have used to help themselves quit. One representative was worried that this bill takes away that cessation option from minors who are addicted to cigarettes.