Updated 12/31/2012 07:37 AM
E-cigarettes banned for minors on New Year's day
A number of new laws are headed to New York in the new year. Among them, a ban on selling smokeless e-cigarettes to minors kicks in on Tuesday. As YNN's John Wagner explains, those who sell those types of cigarettes say kids should stay away.
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RHINEBECK, N.Y. -- A smoker since the age of 11, Noreen Tucker has tried multiple times to stop. Although it's her job to sell cigarettes, she doesn't believe kids should join in.
"Nine times out of ten, they're doing things because everybody else is," said Tucker, a sales associate at the historic Rhinebeck Smoke Shoppe. "They don't know the effects that cigarettes or nicotine is going to have on their body."
Initially marketed as a cheap, safe way to help smokers quit, electronic cigarettes burned into the mainstream in 2012. With no flames, no ash and no smelly second hand smoke to worry about, they offer extra comfort.
"You can smoke in restaurants," described Mike Savino, a pack a day guy who has tried e-cigs. "You really don't want to annoy people, it's odorless, it really does help out a lot if you're trying to quit."
"They're trying to find an alternative to quit without going cold turkey," explained Tucker. "You can still get your nicotine without all the additives."
While some use it to stop, some kids smoke them to start. The battery operated devices heat a liquid nicotine solution to create vapor a smoker inhales. Critics say flavored e-cigarettes lead to nicotine addiction. In turn, New York banned the sale to minors, beginning January 1st.
"If they are able to get their hands on something that looks like a cigarette, acts like a cigarette, the odds are that in the end they are going to end up smoking cigarette," said Savino.
At the Rhinebeck Smoke Shoppe, if you aren't 18 you'll be asked to leave the store. The consequences for selling to a minor are pretty harsh here and at all stores come New Year’s day.
"With our company, you'll be fired on the spot," explained Tucker. "There is a fine, you have to pay that fine and you will have to go to court for selling to a minor."
E-cigs don't feature the scary warning labels that a normal pack would, but the FDA has warned that they could contain unsafe chemicals. Healthwise, it's simply better for kids to never take that first puff.
"They really shouldn't pick up a nicotine product until they're of age to make that decision," explained Tucker. "Because it will hurt them for the rest of their lives. I can't quit smoking."