Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials

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Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, March 15, 2014

E-cigarettes should be illegal for minors

It took a long time for South Dakota to join the battle against smoking, but finally, we did. And the state’s voters backed the smoking ban in a convincing manner when asked to vote on it.

That’s one reason it’s encouraging that lawmakers are trying to get in front of potential problems with the growing use of e-cigarettes. The legislature passed a law banning the sale of the devices to minors.

The measure is awaiting Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s signature.

E-cigarettes are devices that provide a vapor from a nicotine solution. A user inhales the vapor. Use of e-cigarettes is growing, and some portray them as a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes.

But the federal government does not regulate e-cigarettes, and much is still unknown about the potential long-range health effects of the devices. Until that changes, it’s wise to prohibit their sale to young people.

The South Dakota Retailers Association supported the measure after consulting with lawmakers to ensure that there was a single set of statewide regulations, not individual city rules on how to display and sell the items.

Health organizations including the American Cancer Society, the state Medical Association and the Department of Health also supported the restrictions, as did officials from the Attorney General’s office.

Preventing the use of tobacco by young people is an ongoing challenge. The American Cancer Society surveyed middle and high school students and found that the number who said they had smoked an e-cigarette in the past month doubled from 2011 to 2012.

Many of the students in that survey also said they had smoked regular cigarettes.

That’s what health officials and others fear - the vapor inhalers could lead to harmful cigarette smoking, particularly among teenagers.

The South Dakota Legislature did the right thing in restricting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

Gov. Daugaard should sign the measure into law.

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