- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska minors could soon be banned from using electronic cigarettes.

Lawmakers voted 28-0 Tuesday on a measure that would prohibit minors from using the product and stores from selling them to anyone under 18.

Sen. Russ Karpisek of Wilber, who introduced the legislation, said there hasn’t been enough study to know if e-cigarettes are safe.

Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that give users a puff of vapor, typically containing nicotine and sometimes flavorings such as fruit or mint. Users can vary the amount of nicotine.

At least 27 states have prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Minors who use e-cigarettes could be charged with a misdemeanor, as could businesses that sell the product to a minor - the same penalties currently on the books for tobacco, Karpisek said. A minor can be free from prosecution if he or she provides evidence for the conviction of the person who sold the tobacco product.

Stores would have to keep the products behind the counter or in a secure display case, though tobacco specialty stores, which ban minors without a parent or guardian, would be exempt from that provision.

Sen. Colby Coash of Lincoln said he had concerns about the proposed ban. He heard from parents who would want e-cigarettes to be available to help their child quit smoking.

The measure faces two more votes of approval from the Legislature.

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The bill is LB863

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