By Kathy Walsh
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– E-cigarettes are now regulated just like regular cigarettes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned sales to minors as part of an effort to protect future generations from the dangers of using tobacco.
Many in the e-cigarette business don’t argue with that, but they’re fuming about other rules that could shutter their shops.
According to Mitch Zeller, Director of the Center for Tobacco Products with the FDA, “The new FDA regulations make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes, cigars or hookah tobacco products to anybody under the age of 18.”
That’s nothing new in Colorado. State law already limits their sale to those 18 and older.
“It’s been that way for years,” said Troy Kraemer, the manager of Rino Vapes in Aurora. “My market is mostly middle-aged individuals.”
But experts believe about 3 million American teenagers use e-cigarettes. They are often enticed by flavored e-juice that can contain nicotine.
“The earlier the kid experiments with an addictive nicotine containing product the more likely it is that they will progress to regular use of that product,” said Zeller.
But Kraemer said, “There are studies done by other governments that have proven that vaping is 95 percent more healthy for you than smoking.”
The new federal rules don’t allow that discussion with customers or any retailer talk comparing smoking and e-cigarettes.
And the products must now be government approved, a costly process Kraemer says will put smaller vape shops out of business. Smaller producers say the rules benefit the big manufacturers.
And the healthcare community remains divided over the devices. Some say little is known about potential health risks. Others support e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to tobacco for smokers struggling to quit.