COLUMBUS-- The Ohio Senate signed off on legislation Wednesday to prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.
HB 144 passed the chamber on a vote of 32-0. Pending concurrence from the Ohio House, it will be sent to Gov. John Kasich for his signature.
The bill would define so-called e-cigarettes — battery-powered devices that simulate smoking by producing a vapor that can be inhaled — as alternative nicotine products and would block their sale or possession by individuals younger than 18.
The legislation also would permit sellers to check buyers’ age by scanning driver’s licenses or identification cards prior to selling the products.
“This is an e-cigarette,” said Sen. John Eklund of Chardon, R-18th, as he held aloft one of the devices during Wednesday’s floor discussion of the HB 144. “Today, any child with a few bucks can walk into a retail establishment in Ohio and buy one. It is designed to do one thing: deliver to the user’s bloodstream ... nicotine.”
Eklund said the devices also are being used to consume illegal drugs, “by liquidizing and vaporizing them. This creates a pathway for the use of drugs by our most vulnerable citizens and yet another obstacle to law enforcement’s efforts to stop it.”
HB 144 garnered unanimous support in the Senate Wednesday, though at least one lawmaker said it didn’t go far enough to prevent youth access to nicotine products.