Florida lawmakers are close to agreement on prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors -— a welcome stopgap until the federal efforts announced this week can also take effect. Until this new nicotine product, which often sports child-friendly fruit flavors, can be appropriately regulated, the least Florida can do is protect its children.
The proposed ban on e-cigarette sales to minors enjoyed near universal support in both chambers of the Legislature. But the measure hit resistance in the House when lawmakers added a provision nullifying local tobacco ordinances. Several health groups, including the American Cancer Society, opposed the amendment, arguing for both local and state restrictions. Late Tuesday, the House voted to drop the clause against local control and the bill passed. The Senate already approved a similar bill, but will need to reconsider the House's version, which it should be sure to do before the session closes next week.
Florida's move comes as the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday released its long-awaited plan to regulate e-cigarettes, which would include a ban on sales to minors. If approved, it will also provide new protections for adults by requiring manufacturers to detail product content and present scientific evidence of any claims on packaging. While the FDA proposal undergoes a review period, Florida needs to fill the void. The Senate and House need to reach formal agreement and then Gov. Rick Scott should sign the ban on e-cigarette sales to minors into law.