Some Oregon lawmakers plan to keep minors from buying e-cigs

Some Oregon lawmakers plan to keep minors from buying e-cigs »Play Video
Reuben Hawkins, the owner of The Tobacco Pouch in Salem, shows a KATU News reporter (not pictured) his display of disposable cigarettes Monday, Feb. 3, 2014. He says he refuses to sell them to minors even though it's legal to do so. A state lawmaker is working to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors this session.

SALEM, Ore. -- Some Oregon state lawmakers want to make sure minors can't buy electronic cigarettes. To make it happen, they plan on introducing several bills in the 2014 legislative session.

"We know that nicotine is addicting," said state Rep. Andy Olson, R-Albany. "Why would we not prohibit this?"

Olson is the sponsor of House Bill 4073. It would prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from buying electronic cigarettes in Oregon.

Many tobacco retailers already refuse to sell such products to minors.

"Even if it's not bad for them, it might get them on to cigarettes," said Reuben Hawkins, owner of The Tobacco Pouch in Salem.

Hawkins has run his business for 20 years, but told KATU he's adamant about keeping kids away from smoking.

"Even though I make my living selling tobacco, I'd just assume they didn't start," he said.

Both Olson and Hawkins believe electronic cigarette makers are out to market to young people. They point to the flavors of some electronic cigarettes now available. Consumers can choose many different flavors like chocolate, watermelon, bubble gum, and sour apple. Olson believes an outright ban on minor sales is the best way to deter such marketing.

"If we're concerned about minors in that state, I think that's where we need to go to be consistent," he said.

Other lawmakers are also considering their own bills governing the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.