Governor Signs Attorney General Fox’s Bill Prohibiting Sale of E-Cigarettes to Minors

Yesterday the governor signed Senate Bill 66 (http://laws.leg.mt.gov/legprd/LAW0203W$BSRV.ActionQuery?P_SESS=20151&P_BLTP_BILL_TYP_CD=SB&P_BILL_NO=66&P_BILL_DFT_NO=&P_CHPT_NO=&Z_ACTION=Find&P_ENTY_ID_SEQ2=&P_SBJT_SBJ_CD=&P_ENTY_ID_SEQ=), which prohibits the sale of electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, to minors. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Diane Sands of Missoula and introduced at the request of Attorney General Tim Fox.

E-cigarettes, the use of which is often referred to as “vaping,” are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine to the user by heating liquid nicotine, derived from tobacco plants, along with flavors and other chemicals, into a vapor that the user inhales. Often e-cigarettes feature fruit and candy flavors, and the marketing includes cartoon characters and other imagery clearly targeted at a younger audience.

“E-cigarettes can be just as dangerous and addictive as traditional cigarettes, yet right now it is perfectly legal to sell them to minors in Montana,” Fox said. “The legislature did the right thing and took another important step toward protecting children, and I’m grateful to Sen. Sands for her hard work on this important bill.”

“This bill will help protect the health of our young people,” Sen. Diane Sands said. “E-cigarettes are often marketed to kids as harmless and the number of high school students who have tried e-cigarettes has tripled in one year. Our bill sends a strong message that nicotine is harmful in any form and our kids should not be smoking cigarettes nor ‘vaping’ nicotine in an e-cigarette.”

During legislative debate, some objected to the bill on the grounds that certain retailers already refuse to sell e-cigarettes to minors, while others argued that e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking.

“Some retailers in Montana already do the right thing and won’t sell e-cigarettes to minors, but in many communities they are still readily available to children in stores,” Fox pointed out. “In my own family,” he added, “I have seen the devastating effects of smoking and I know how difficult it can be to quit the habit. Fortunately, this new law will have no impact on adults who may find e-cigarettes a useful tool to help them quit smoking.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/alternative-nicotine-products-e-cigarettes.aspx), there are currently 42 states and one territory prohibiting sales of e-cigarettes or vaping/alternative tobacco products to minors.

Montana’s law takes effect on January 1, 2016.