Source: CVDaily Feed

As electronic cigarette use rises among teens, state lawmakers in Utah join other parts of the country in finding solutions to address the problem.

The sale of e-cigarettes and their more complex vapor pen counterparts to minors is illegal in Utah and other states. But this hasn’t stopped many teens from using the products on a regular basis.

According to Brian Bennion, director of the Weber-Morgan Health Department, one in five teens in 8th, 10th and 12 grades use e-cigarettes on a regular basis. Bennion was one of the experts called to speak to the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee on Friday, Jan. 30.

A national survey from the University of Michigan, entitled “Monitoring the Future,” reported that almost 9% of 8th graders and more than 16% of 10th and 12th graders had used e-cigarettes sometime in the previous 30 days.

The devices, which were first introduced in the 1960s but didn’t become popular until the past decade, are made with a “e-liquid” or “e-juice,” which produces the smokeless vapor. These e-liquids are available in fruity, candy flavors and varieties like chocolate and vanilla, which could explain their appeal to teens.

State legislators in Utah don’t want to ban the devices outright, though, said Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs. “I’m not about to make a knee-jerk decision that will end up restricting the freedoms of people.”

But the state aims to make it more difficult for teens to get their hands on these products and wants to impose penalties on vendors of e-cigarettes and vaping paraphernalia who are caught selling the items to minors.

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield would like to see a statewide smoking ban. In previous years, he helped pass a law to restrict the sale of traditional cigarettes to minors.

E-cigarettes, however, are a growing worry, and other lawmakers voice medical concerns, as well.

Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, who is also a physician, said that he has seen more teens become addicted to these products than he has seen adults use the product to quit smoking. The e-liquid in these products contains nicotine, which is addictive whether it’s a tobacco or electronic cigarette, said Ward.

Ray has requested a bill to address the “regulation and taxation of e-cigarettes,” but lawmakers are currently working to introduce such legislation.