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St. Peters alderman to draft bill banning e-cigarette sales to minors

St. Peters may be moving to ban the purchase of electronic cigarettes by minors and forbid them from entering so-called “vapor lounges” where they can be smoked.

The city’s Board of Aldermen approved a motion by Alderman Patrick Barclay (Ward 4) during a work session on Aug. 14 authorizing him to draft a bill with the bans. The bill is expected to be considered by the board in September.

Barclay said the bill would be modeled after an ordinance approved on July 21 by the Chesterfield City Council. The Chesterfield ordinance bans the sale and possession of vapor nicotine products to anyone under age 18 and prohibits minors from entering vapor lounges. He said his bill may not be as strict as the Chesterfield ordinance, which also  bans possession of e-cigarettes by minors.

“That would be impossible to enforce,” Barclay said.

But he said he did want to discuss possession with city Police Chief Jeff Finkelstein before coming back to the board in September with a draft ordinance.

E-cigarettes, also known as vaporizing products, are battery-operated devices that heat a flavored liquid solution containing nicotine into vapor. E-cigarette supporters say they are a safer alternative to smoking tobacco products. But health authorities are skeptical and fear their use can encourage experimentation with drugs and encourage smoking. Some studies show that the number of children using these products has doubled in recent years, and several states and cities have passed legislation restricting who can buy e-cigarettes and similar products

Alderman David Thomas (Ward 1) said the bill was a “great idea.”

“It’s an opportunity to control substance abuse,” Thomas said. “And it allows adults to make a free-will choice once they are 18.”

The board also had weighed in earlier this year on the e-cigarette issue when it approved a resolution  supporting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s efforts to regulate the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and ban them from entering vapor lounges.

The resolution came in light of an FDA public comment period on this issue and Missouri Senate Bill 841, which would have banned the sale of e-cigarettes and alternative nicotine and vapor products to minors. Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed SB 841 in July, saying the bill didn’t go far enough because it didn’t exempted vapor products from taxes and regulations in place for tobacco cigarettes.

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