A Philadelphia City Councilman says the sale of electronic cigarettes to children needs to be banned.
Councilman Bill Greenlee plans to introduce legislation to City Council on Thursday that would restrict the sale of the devices to only those over the age of 18.
Those caught selling the e-cigarettes to minors could be fined $250 or have their business shut down for some time if several violations are uncovered, according to an advanced copy of the bill obtained by NBC10.com. The bill also requires those under the age of 27 to be carded.
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The battery operated devices heat flavored liquids and produce a vapor which is inhaled by the user. The process is called "vaping." The liquids could contain nicotine or simply flavoring.
Minors have been increasingly been using the devices. A recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found e-cigarette use has doubled among middle school students. Use by high schoolers has also jumped.
Opponents of the devices say their use by children and teens mimics cigarette use and could instill bad habits. Medical professionals have also highlighted concerns about a lack of regulation and testing to understand what is actually in e-cigarette liquids, which are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
"Based on the limited data that we have seen, I think it is imperative that we keep these devices out of the hands of minors now. We need to protect people, especially minors from the deadly smoking habit.” Greenlee said in a statement.
If passed, Philadelphia would be the first city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to regulate the sale of the devices. A Pa. Senate bill, currently making its way through the legislature, would also ban the sale of e-cigarettes and other nicotine products like nicotine gum to minors.
City officials have also considered banning vaping in restaurants, public spaces and workplaces, adding to laws already in place for traditional cigarette use.