South Dakota is sometimes known as a state that lags behind in regulations concerning new technology.
We’re still debating a prohibition on texting and driving now, long after most states have banned the practice. We were also one of the last states to lower the blood alcohol content for DUI charges from .10 to .08 and resisted seatbelt laws for years.
That might not be the case for e-cigarette regulations. Sen. Dan Lederman, R-Dakota Dunes, is pushing legislation that would ban the sale of “alternative nicotine products” to anyone under the age of 18.
That would include any product that produces inhalable nicotine vapor. We commonly call them “e-cigarettes,” and they’re sold at gas stations, drug stores and other retailers under names such as Blu, NJOY, V2 and a host of others (full disclosure: I switched from regular cigs to e-cigs last year).
Lederman’s bill would also ban kids from owning, using or buying e-cigarettes. South Dakota would join at least 20 states with similar restrictions.
Most e-cigarette packages explicitly state that the products aren’t to be sold to minors, and the two e-cig retailers in Sioux Falls have “no sales to minors” rules of their own.
Lederman’s bill would make those prohibitions explicit. That’s a regulation supported by a group called the “Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association.”
What Lederman’s bill won’t do is clear the air (see what I did there?) in the debate about the public health virtues or pitfalls of electronic cigarettes, which supporters call essentially harmless but detractors see as a path to a dangerous normalization of nicotine addiction.
Lederman’s bill has not appeared in a committee yet.