PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A proposal, introduced by Republican Senator-elect Heather Carter would place the same restrictions on vaping devices and nicotine pods as are placed on tobacco products.

It’s already illegal in Arizona to sell an e-cigarette to someone who’s younger 18, but Carter says the state’s laws are outdated and do not all the different forms of vaping devices.

Youth e-cigarette use is skyrocketing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 38 percent of high-school students reported using vape products in 2018.

“Vapes, e-pens, or whatever else you want to call them, have become the training wheels to develop future smokers,” Carter said.

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And while the picture is still hazy on the health effects of e-cigarettes, mothers like Stacy Johnson say it’s not something they want for their children.

“I don’t think people realize the addicting properties of it,” Johnson said. “Nicotine is a lifelong burden, and I just don’t think that [people], especially the kids, know what that means.”

But the law is not a hit with everyone.

At GK’s Vapor Pub, owner Gunnar Birtel says the new classification could strike a blow to online sales.

“Classifying us as tobacco seems like the wrong thing to do because this is what people are using to get away from tobacco,” Birtel said, adding that he was able to quit smoking using e-cigarettes.

Birtel says he’d like to collaborate with lawmakers on a different path forward on vaping products.

“There’s (sic) no children that should be using them,” Birtel said. “So I am absolutely willing to come to the table and let’s figure out a solution.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers will mull other vaping-related legislation this session. A bill from incoming Republican Rep. John Kavanaugh would prohibit vaping in public areas like bars and restaurants, amending the Smoke-Free Arizona Act.


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