The chance for teens under 18 years old to buy electronic cigarettes could soon be going up in smoke.
Louisiana lawmakers voted to send a bill to the Senate that would close a loop hole that allows minors to buy the non-tobacco alternative. The bill's author Democrat Senator Rick Gallot of Ruston says he just wants to clear up any confusion for businesses and customers.
Shreveport mom Penny Hardey does not agree with the new plan.
"I would rather my teenagers go use a vape pen rather than a cigarette," said Hardey, who bought both her teenagers electronic cigarettes, known as "vape pens." She opted for the non-nicotine option, after she saw a picture of her 17-year-old son blowing what looked to be smoke.
"I would rather them do something like that," she said. "It gives them the effect of smoking, gives them the feeling of it, but not getting any harm with it," she said."
The "e-cigs" work when liquid nicotine or nicotine-less "juices" are heated up by a battery-charged coil, no tobacco is burned. Users inhale and instead of smoke, there's a steam-like vapor.
But if Gallot gets his way, it will be illegal for minors to purchase electronic cigarettes in Louisiana.
It's a policy, Tobacco House Store Manager Kaylee Cooper says they already follow.
"You have to be 18 or older to come to the store, so therefore if you were to come in an purchase an electronic cig, you would get ID'd," she said.
"It is our responsibility as a legislature to clear the confusion and keep these habit-forming products out of the hands of Louisiana's youth," he said in a statement.
Hardey agrees that those 18 and under shouldn't be able to buy an e-cigarette without a parent, but isn't sure a new law is needed.
"There are so many unnecessary laws on the books, but if it makes people feel better, I guess it's a good thing," she said.
"But from my experience when I went into the vape store with my children, I saw other teenagers come in there they checked their ID's," she added.
The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 27 states have banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
The bill now moves next to the senate floor.
Copyright 2014 KSLA. All rights reserved.
IF YOU HAVE A STORY IDEA CONTACT WLBT/WDBD AT (601) 960-4426 OR EMAIL US AT News@WLBT.COM.
715 South Jefferson Street
Jackson, MS 39201