SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Legislature was considering two bills that aim to keep so-called electronic cigarettes out of the hands of minors as they gain in popularity among Oregon teens.
E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that deliver a nicotine vapor to users with each puff, and manufacturers claim they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. But lawmakers and public health advocates worry that teens using e-cigarettes could become addicted to nicotine.
The state House Human Services and Housing Committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday to work on two bills dealing with the devices. The panel also held hearings on the measures last week.
HB 4073 and HB 4115 would make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes and their nicotine-containing liquids to anyone under 18. While that's where HB 4073 stops, HB 4115 would also ban use of the devices in public buildings and workplaces, as Oregon now does with cigarettes and other forms of tobacco.
Rep. Phil Barnhart, D-Eugene, a chief sponsor of HB 4115, told the committee last week that the bill "catches up with the technology" of e-cigarettes and applies the laws on smoking to the devices. He said it would protect "second parties" from unwanted exposure to the vapor or poorer air quality.
There is little disagreement about keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors, but opponents of the indoor-use ban say there is not enough evidence that vapor harms the health of users or those exposed secondhand.