State moves toward banning sale of e-cigarettes to minors

Legislation has been introduced on behalf of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors and strengthen Connecticut’s anti-smoking laws.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, currently are not regulated in the state of Connecticut. However, more than half of U.S. states do regulate e-cigarettes.

Reducing tobacco use by young people

“Connecticut should join the 27 states that have already prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes and other related devices to minors to continue our progress toward achieving long-term reductions in tobacco use and tobacco-related illnesses,” Malloy said.

“More than 75% of young people who have tried e-cigarettes also report smoking conventional cigarettes,” he said. “This legislation will strengthen our prevention efforts and help reduce tobacco use among young people.”

The proposed bill cleared its first legislative hurdle on Tuesday when it was approved in a unanimous vote by the state legislature’s Committee on Children.

What’s in the proposed bill

The legislation — technically known as An Act Concerning the Governor’s Recommendations Regarding Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and Youth Smoking Prevention — would enhance the state’s anti-smoking laws by:

Banning sales to minors: It would ban the sale of e-cigarettes, electronic nicotine delivery systems, and other vapor products to minors under age 18.

Reducing the tobacco retailer violation rate:  The state has more than 4,000 licensed tobacco retailers that are subject to routine inspections through the state’s Tobacco Prevention and Enforcement Program (for sales to minors and other violations). The bill seeks to reduce the rate of violations by implementing a “best practices” online tobacco prevention education program for first-time offenders and increasing the time period in which a higher penalty can be assessed for repeat violations from 18 to 24 months.

Cracking down on the sale of ‘loose cigarettes’:  The legislation would increase the capacity for local law enforcement to issue fines to sellers of loose cigarettes (individual cigarettes outside a pack), which will reduce access to cheaper and more accessible tobacco products by minors.

Investing in tobacco prevention and cessation efforts:  The proposal increases the maximum amount of funding the Board of Trustees of the Tobacco and Health Trust Fund can disburse for tobacco prevention and cessation efforts. This money comes from the Tobacco Settlement Fund that was created due to past litigation between the states and cigarette makers.