New Bill Aims to Curb Teen E-Cigarette Use

The debate over e-cigarettes is heating up once again. The state Judiciary Committee took new steps Wednesday to keep them out of kids' hands.

“They don't go together,” said Craig Lomma of West Hartford. “It's emulating a bad behavior.”

Lomma and his wife Deb are former smokers. Both say electronic cigarettes are a slippery slope.

“It's something that is habitual, and it can turn into the cigarettes,” said Deb Lomma.

Governor Malloy agrees. This new bill tackles his recommendations for youth smoking prevention.

SB-24 makes it illegal for anyone under age 18 to buy or publicly possess an e-cigarette. Of the committee members present 35 voted “yea,” eight were absent and did not vote, and one, Republican Representative John Shaban, voted against the bill.

“E-nicotine devices don't contain tobacco, and I am hesitant to begin categorizing them as though they are synonymous with cigarettes," Shaban said in a statement. "I want to ensure there is a reasonable level of oversight for these devices that is consistent with their contents."

E-cigarettes are battery-powered nicotine inhalers, but the jury is still out on the health risks. Some say they're safe, while analysts in one study say they've found traces of dangerous chemicals.

Committee Chair Sen. Eric Coleman says his goal is making certain distributors do everything they can to prevent the sale to minors.

“The importance has to do with the inconclusiveness of the potential ill effects that e-cigarettes on health, particularly of youngsters,” Coleman said.

“I did smoke for a long time. But one day I was walking up the stairs and felt a tightness in my chest, and said today I'm quitting,” said Deb Lomma.

That was more than 25 years ago. And now she and her husband hope the bill, which could face more scrutiny before reaching the full House or Senate floors, gets passed.

“It's not what children should be doing. They should be out there playing soccer,” Deb Lomma said.

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