Stronger e-cigarette laws sent to Governor's desk

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With overwhelming approval, the General Assembly passed a bill filed at the request of Attorney General Peter Kilmartin requiring child-resistant packaging for e-liquid used in electronic nicotine-delivery systems such as e-cigarettes, and banning e-cigarette use on school grounds.

The bill now heads to the Governor's desk for signature.

E-liquids contain nicotine in its purest form mixed with flavoring, coloring, and assorted chemicals, and can be extremely dangerous, especially for children who may be attracted to them by their color and sweet, candy-like smell. The legislation would require all liquid "intended for human consumption and/or use in an electronic nicotine-delivery system" to be contained in child-resistant packaging, which means packaging that is designed to be significantly difficult for children under five to open or obtain a harmful amount of the substance inside within a reasonable time.

The bill would also add electronic nicotine delivery systems to the statute that bans tobacco use on school property, and to clarify that the state law banning smoking on school property includes e-cigarettes and vaping.

Commenting on the legislation, AG Kilmartin said, "The popularity and use of e-cigarettes and vaping products continue to rise. While the jury is still out on the health effects of e-cigarettes versus the known health problems caused by traditional nicotine products, we can all agree that these products should be kept out of the hands of children. Most troubling is that these products – especially e-liquids – come in a variety of enticing flavors, such as "candy crush" and "gummy bear," which appeal to children. There is currently no such regulation on this toxic product with respect to child-resistant packaging."

According to the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, nicotine is an acute toxin and exposure by swallowing or contact with the skin can result in nausea, vomiting, respiratory arrest, seizure and even death. The Centers for Disease Control report a dramatic increase in the number of calls related to e-cigarette liquid exposure, especially among children.

According to a study released by the CDC in April 2014, the number of calls to poison centers involving e-cigarette liquids containing nicotine rose from one per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014. More than half (51.1 percent) of the calls to poison centers due to e-cigarettes involved young children under the age of five.

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