COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Children would no longer be allowed to purchase alternative nicotine products in Ohio, including electronic cigarettes.
Under the bill, sellers of alternative nicotine products are allowed to check identification in order to validate the age of the would-be customer.
“As a state representative, and more importantly as a mother of two teenagers, I believe we can all agree that protecting Ohio’s children should be a top priority,” State Rep. Stephanie Kunze said. “I am honored to sponsor this legislation, which does exactly that.”
The Hilliard Republican says that while electronic cigarettes would be treated like their tobacco counterparts, they would not be taxed the same.
"This legislation does not prohibit e-cigarettes from being taxed in the future," she said.
Opponents keyed in on that, pointing out that the tax revenues from tobacco products are used to help fund programs to get users to quit using them.
"Tobacco cigarettes are taxed at $1.75. The only tax that will apply to these products is sales tax," said Rep. Nickie Antonio, a Lakewood Democrat.
Others expressed concerns about the bill not including a ban on their use indoors. Rep. Dan Ramos, a Democrat from Lorain, wanted to see an amendment added that would classify e-cigarettes the same as tobacco cigarettes and ban their use indoors. He told the story of being around a friend who was using an e-cigarette.
"I could taste it in the air and feel it in my nostrils and the back of my throat. I experienced the second hand effects just as if I was sitting next to a person who was smoking a cigarette," he said.
Kunze said the focus of her bill was simply to keep children from being able to purchase or use e-cigarettes. Her bill had the backing of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, but it was opposed by groups like the American Lung Association and American Cancer Society.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data indicate that the percentage of middle and high school students in the United States who have tried e-cigarettes more than doubled between 2011 and 2012. It also found that 76 percent of young people who currently use e-cigarettes also smoked regular cigarettes, leading some experts to believe e-cigarettes may lead to smoking real cigarettes.
The measure now heads to the Ohio Senate.
(Photo courtesy Getty Images)