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Congressional report pushes for e-cigarette rules

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Federal officials are calling for new regulations for electronic cigarettes.

A new report released Monday cited concerns that e-cigarettes aggressively target youth, and should be strictly regulated like traditional cigarettes.

The report, by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, California Rep. Henry Waxman and others highlights several issues including the lack of age restrictions and no uniform warning labels for the battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution and create vapor that’s inhaled, the AP reports.

E-cigarettes are not currently regulated by the federal government, although the proposed Food and Drug Administration's regulations were submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for review in October.

“E-cigarette manufactures don’t have to play by the same rules (as traditional cigarette makers),” said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, one of the leaders behind the investigation.

“E-cigarette makers are free to sponsor youth-oriented events and produce flavors that appeal to kids. And that is exactly what’s happening,” Waxman told CNN.

In the absence of federal rules, states are beginning to make their own rules.

The Minnesota legislature is considering a proposal that would would ban sale of e-cigarettes to children and ban their use indoors in all public buildings. The Senate bill is sponsored by Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, although Gov. Mark Dayton has said he opposes the proposal.

“After we came down pretty hard on smokers last session, that’s probably enough for this biennium,” Dayton told the Star Tribune, referring to tobacco tax increases that were enacted last year. “We did enough to smokers last session.”

Dayton said he would sign a bill to restrict children’s ability to buy e-cigarettes and to keep them out of schools, but he would oppose making them subject to the indoor air law.

The bill is awaiting action in the state Senate.

A companion bill in the House includes the ban on children having access to e-cigarettes. It would allow state government to restrict e-cigarette use in their buildings, and private businesses could decide for themselves.

More Minnesota children and teenagers were poisoned by e-cigarette liquid last year than in 2012.

The Department of Health reports there were five reports of e-cigarette related poisoning in 2012. Last year, that number jumped to 50.

E-cigarette poisonings accounted for 23 percent of the state’s 218 teen and child tobacco-related poisonings in 2013.

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