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Bill Filed To Regulate E-Cigarettes In Florida

House Photo by Clark

A bill filed in the Florida House would regulate the sale and use of e-cigarettes in the state.   Florida State Representative Ron "Doc" Renuart, a republican representing the Florida 17th near Jacksonville, said if it's enacted the bill would, among other things make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.  A similar bill has been introduced in the Florida Senate. 

Representative Renuart  says current regulations on tobacco products do not apply to e-cigarettes for a simple reason...they have no tobacco.  But he says that doesn't mean they are safe.  And across the state anti smoking advocates are trying to craft a message about e-cigarettes. 

One of the claims made by makers and marketers of e-cigarettes is that using them is a safe way to stop smoking regular cigarettes.  And there have been many anecdotal reports about long time smokers finally quitting the habit by using e-cigarettes.  But as of right now Smoke Free Florida is not recommending the devices as a quitting aid. Vanessa Phillips is the Tobacco Prevention Coordinator for Tobacco Free Florida in Escambia County said there is no official policy on e-cigarettes.

Some have compared the situation with e-cigarettes with the wild west.  They are not regulated, have not been researched much and people are pretty much making up rules as they go along.  They are not covered under the smoke free workplace law in the state and there are no regulations about selling the devices to minors, although Representative Doc Renuart says many retailers have been cautious about that.

There have been some local regulations passed in Florida.  Clay County became the first in the state to adopt an ordinance regulating the use, sale and display of e-cigarettes back in May...and the Pinellas County School Board just took the first steps to update the district's tobacco and nicotine policies to add smoking "look-a-like" products to the not allowed list.  Representative Renuart is hopeful that soon there will be regulations for the sale of e-cigarettes statewide.

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.