There is now an age limit to purchase an electronic cigarette in Hawaii

Published  10:10 PM HST Jun 27, 2013
HONOLULU -

A new law takes effect on Thursday. There is now an age limit in Hawaii to purchase an electronic cigarette.

Health officials say there's still a lot of mystery as to what people are actually inhaling.

Electronic cigarette advertisements seem to be popping up everywhere from print ads to wall ads promoting vast different flavors like Kona Coffee and Hula Punch.  Flavors that health officials say are banned with tobacco cigarettes because they appeal to young adults.

Now, you have to be 18 or older to purchase the device in Hawaii, before there was no age restriction.

"At Kapa'a High School on Kauai last year, 7 percent of high schoolers had tried these devices. This year that increased to 15 percent that a high schooler had tried these devices, so we are seeing some very rapid growth of especially youth trying these products," said Annie Hollis, with Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii.

The majority of e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine filled vapor to the user. They are not FDA regulated and are lighting up concerns by health officials about the lack of quality control.

"There's no standardization of how much nicotine is in the product. There's also been studies that has shown that there are different amounts in the product than analyzed, so it would be labeled with a certain nicotine content and maybe not contain that nicotine content," said Dr. Rachel Grana, a tobacco product researcher.

Health officials say there are still many questions about its side effects.

"There have been reports and scientific studies that there are toxins in the vapor, so people should be protected from exposure to the vapor at this point. We don't know what the health risks are of the vapor," said Grana.

But, some users say it's helping them stop their cigarette usage.

"Since it's something new, you don't know exactly the side effects of it. What I know is I cut down smoking to less than five a month now," said e-cigarette user Shoji Bravo.

Health officials say e-cigarettes are advertised as a smoking-cessation tool, but they are not approved for that purpose.  Right now, in Hawaii, they are not allowed to be used in buses or on school grounds.

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