Massachusetts Lawmakers Consider Restrictions on E-Cigarettes

Massachusetts lawmakers Tuesday heard testimony on a bill to regulate electronic cigarettes. Attorney General Martha Coakley says the measure would close gaps in current state law. It would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes or any nicotine delivery system to children under 18.

“They are being marketed, given the appearance and – frankly – the candy colors and flavors, to youthful users. And you can see they’re sleek, they’re cool, they’re electronic,” Coakley says. “We are very concerned about the push to get a whole new generation of people to use nicotine.”

The bill initially proposed by State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez of Boston would prohibit e-cigarettes from being used in all places where smoking is currently banned. The metal or plastic battery-powered devices resemble traditional cigarettes, but heat a liquid nicotine solution, creating vapor that users inhale.

Coakley and other state attorneys general recently asked the federal Food and Drug Administration to regulate e-cigarettes the same way it regulates tobacco. Coakley says she worries that the federal shutdown will slow that process.

This story includes reporting from the Associated Press and New England Public Radio’s Sarah Birnbaum.