From The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Senate approved a bill Wednesday to prevent youth access to electronic cigarettes and limit the tax that can be imposed on the devices.
The full Senate voted 26-15 for the bill that would prohibit anyone under age 18 from purchasing so-called "e-cigarettes." The bill also imposes a 5-cent tax on e-cigarettes and limits the maximum tax to 10 percent of that imposed on a pack of cigarettes. The bill narrowly received the 25 votes needed for passage in the 48-member Senate.
"Right now there is nothing on the books to prevent a child from going to a kiosk at the mall and buying e-cigarettes or similar devices," said Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Yukon, the sponsor of the bill. "The simple fact is these are nicotine products, and we need to do what we can to keep children from using them."
An alternative to traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution and create vapor users inhale. Current law has no age restriction on the purchase of the products.
Doug Matheny, an anti-tobacco activist and the former director of the state's anti-smoking initiative, described the bill as "Trojan horse legislation," and voiced concern that it sets a statutory cap on the taxes that can be imposed on a wide range of nicotine products.
"It masquerades as a bill about kids while creating broad loopholes for highly addictive products," Matheny said.
The bill, which now heads to the House for consideration, establishes statutory definitions for "vapor products" and "tobacco-derived products."
Online: Senate Bill 802