123rf.com stock photo

123rf.com stock photo

Alaska Senate bill targets vaping by those under 19

The Alaska Senate is nearing a vote on a measure to make all vaping illegal for anyone younger than 19 years old.

Senate Bill 15, sponsored by Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, was approved by the Senate Finance Committee last week and is expected to advance to a vote of the full Senate this week.

Existing state law already prohibits those under 19 from buying or otherwise acquiring e-cigarettes or vape pens if they contain nicotine. Stevens’ bill aims to expand that prohibition to all electronic cigarettes, not just those that use nicotine.

“Basically what this bill is about is protecting our children, our youth from becoming addicted to nicotine and from adopting unhealthy habits,” Stevens told the finance committee on Feb. 28.

E-cigarettes and vaporizers heat minute amounts of liquid to create an aerosol vapor and were designed to create a feel similar to smoking a traditional cigarette but one that delivers nicotine with fewer toxic byproducts.

While many liquids used in e-cigarettes and vaporizers contain nicotine, not all do. Some merely include flavorings designed to taste like cotton candy or birthday cake, to name two of many possibilities.

In support of his bill, Stevens said he believes non-nicotine e-cigarettes and vaporizers are a gateway to smoking in later life.

“It is also intuitive that vaping, like cigarette smoking, is inherently habit-forming,” Stevens wrote in a message accompanying his bill. “By continuing to not take action against this new trend, we send the message to our youth that these products are safe and appropriate to use.”

Stevens said in his letter that “there has been an explosion of several hundreds of electronic smoking device components and chemical vapor products flooding the market to meet the demand of young consumers wanting to be ‘cool.’”

Figures from the state of Alaska support that argument. According to a 2015 survey conducted by the state, 18 percent of Alaska youths have used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days. That’s a higher proportion than the percentage of children who have smoked (11 percent) in the same period.

Stevens’ bill is likely to pass the Senate by a significant margin. It has been cosponsored by 11 other lawmakers, including one Democrat.

Opposition to the measure, voiced in public testimony held earlier this month, has come from retailers who say adequate measures are already in place to keep children from accessing nicotine.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at jbrooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.

More in News

Drag queen Gigi Monroe reads a book about a wig during Drag Storytime at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
One for the books: Drag Storytime returns

Balloons, books, bustin’ moves.

FILE - Tara Sweeney, a Republican seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Sweeney's campaign manager said, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, that the campaign did not plan to sue over a finding released by Alaska elections officials stating that she cannot advance to the special election for U.S. House following the withdrawal of another candidate. (AP Photo / Mark Thiessen, File)
Alaska Supreme Court ruling keeps Sweeney off House ballot

In a brief written order, the high court said it affirmed the decision of a Superior Court judge.

President Joe Biden signs into law S. 2938, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act gun safety bill, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Saturday, June 25, 2022. First lady Jill Biden looks on at right. (AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President signs landmark gun measure, says ‘lives will be saved’

The House gave final approval Friday, following Senate passage Thursday.

Three people were arrested over several days in a series of events stemming from a June 16 shoplifting incident, with a significant amount of methamphetamine seized. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Shoplifting investigation leads to arrests on drug charges

Significant amounts of drugs and loose cash, as well as stolen goods, were found.

Ben Gaglioti, an ecologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, stands next to a mountain hemlock tree damaged in winter on the outer coast of Glacier Bay National Park in Southeast Alaska. (Courtesy Photos / Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Bonsai trees tell of winters long past

By Ned Rozell A GREEN PLATEAU NORTH OF LITUYA BAY — “These… Continue reading

This photo shows a return envelope from the recent special primary election for Alaska's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. On Friday, a judge sided with the state elections office on a decision to omit fifth-place finisher Tara Sweeney from ballots in the special general election. Al Gross, who finished third in the special primary, dropped out of the race, creating confusing circumstances ahead of Alaska's first ranked choice vote. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Judge rules Sweeney wont advance to special election

Decision has Sweeney off the ballot for special election.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Saturday, June 25, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of June 19

Here’s what to expect this week.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Peter Froehlich, a retired Juneau district judge who is now a volunteer tour guide, explains the history of the history of the Kimball Theatre Pipe Organ in the State Office Building to a group of visitors Thursday. The organ has been idle since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now needs repairs before regular Friday lunchtime concerts and other performances on the 94-year-old instrument can resume.
Historic organ is in need of tuneup

How much it will cost and who will do it remain up in the air.

Most Read