E-CIGARETTES: Minn. lawmakers mull restrictions to cut kids' use

E-CIGARETTES: Minn. lawmakers mull restrictions to cut kids' use

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

More and more people are using electronic cigarettes, but there are still many questions about just what is inside those vapors and whether the devices are safe in the long-term.

On Wednesday night, Minnesota lawmakers are asking similar questions as they take up a bill that would put some restrictions on e-cigarettes in the attempt to keep children from getting hooked.

VIDEO: How to regulate e-cigarettes, minors

Most of the people using e-cigarettes, also known as "vaping," are trying to kick tobacco, but since some of the flavored juices in the devices do contain nicotine, lawmakers are concerned that minors could become addicted to a new, high-tech version of an old vice.

State lawmakers cite statistics that say e-cigarette use among children doubled in a year. In fact, Rep. Laurie Halverson is introducing a bill that would ban e-cigarettes from schools and ban sales to minors.

"My primary concern is that we are going to be hooking a whole new generation of kids on nicotine," she said.

That's an issue where Halverson and retailers largely agree.

"We don't want it going to the children. We won't sell to children. Our store -- you can't come in here unless you're 18 -- and I don't know one vape shop, brick and mortar, that would," Tyler said.

Yet, they don't agree on where the regulations are likely to go next -- such as restricting e-cigarette use in public buildings.

"Local units of government are getting calls… 'What are these things and what are we supposed to do about usage indoors?'" Halverson explained. "That is a very big and emerging issue."

Retailers in the industry agree, which is why they are working to convince the public that using an e-cigarette is not the same as smoking.

"We couldn't be any more different. We are not the same product," Paul Tyler, of Vape Pros, insisted.

A Senate version of the bill would add e-cigarettes to the Clean Indoor Air Act and would ban them from public buildings just like tobacco cigarettes; however, both bills have a long way to go before they come up for a floor vote.

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