A new state law takes effect Tuesday banning the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, but e-cigarette sellers don’t expect much of a dip in business. Cory Hatfield, who runs Central Iowa Electronic Cigarettes in Des Moines, lobbied the state legislature to pass the bill banning e-cigarette sales to people under 18, because he says the burgeoning industry has an image problem.
Hatfield says, “If they get too many people complaining, they’re going to start placing heavy restrictions and heavy regulations, probably more than what it needs to be, especially with the fact this is a growing industry and it’s having a tremendous amount of success with helping people not use cigarettes.” Hatfield says he chose not to sell his product to minors shortly after opening two years ago, even though Iowa had no law at the time banning their sale or requiring clerks to check I-Ds.
He says most sellers of e-cigarettes have already made it a standing practice not to sell to people under 18. “The whole image in the industry could be blown up with people continuing to sell to minors and sell to children,” Hatfield says. “They think we’re actually trying to market to children and that’s totally not the case.”
Hatfield says the battery-operated devices are meant to be a less harmful alternative to tobacco. E-cigarettes heat liquid nicotine into a vapor, which is then inhaled. Last year, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller called for the battery-operated devices to be taxed in a similar fashion as tobacco cigarettes. Miller also proposed adding e-cigarettes to the Iowa Smokefree Air Act, which would ban their use in designated public places.