New debate flares over electronic cigarettes

Posted at 12:06 AM, Apr 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-15 17:35:35-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- There's new debate in the longtime home of big tobacco about whether electronic cigarettes should be regulated like traditional cigarettes.

A new report, recently released by a dozen congressmen pushing for new rules, finds e-cigarettes should be regulated.

That's because the growing trend with adult smokers is becoming more popular with teens.

The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth's Richard Foster said e-cigarettes sales have skyrocketed since since they were introduced. He said marketing is part of the problem when it comes to teens.

"They're able to get around restrictions that traditional tobacco products have in place," Foster said.

A recent congressional report said it is a problem.

Congress said e-cigarette manufactures are characterizing flavors like watermelon bubble gum and tutti frutti in order to appeal to teens under 18.

Chris Cooley, the co-owner of Richmond Vapes, said there is a misconception about e-cigarrettes.

"I'm actually not aware of any direct marketing from any liquid makers to any age group, let alone minors."

Dooley said the huge assortment of flavors and products for e-cigarettes is there to give his adult customers variety with smoking.

"Honestly my guys that really get into tend to be the older crowd, because there's a lot of specialty electrical knowledge," Dooley said.

However, Foster believes that variety is partly what is drawing teens.

"One in five of those kids nationally said they hadn't even tried a regular cigarette yet, so that certainly points to the data about it being a gateway," Foster said.

Virginia passed new regulations in March which make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors.
Lawmakers in Washington are being pressured to create a similar federal law and mandate warning labels.