Gainesville city commissioners unanimously voted in favor of regulating the use of e-cigarettes in a commission meeting Thursday.
The proposed ordinance would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. It would ban selling them through vending machines, and it would ban their use in tobacco-free areas like UF’s campus.
Kathy Nichols, assistant director for UF Area Health Education Centers Program, spoke during the meeting about the use and preliminary dangers of e-cigarettes.
Nichols said e-cigarettes contain nicotine, polyethylene glycol — which creates the smoke effect — and other questionable flavored chemicals.
She said although some dangers have been found involving e-cigarette use, more information is still needed to determine long-term effects of the product.
She said some research shows the product is popular among teens.
“There are youth who are starting to use the product who have never used traditional cigarettes,” Nichols said.
Mayor Ed Braddy said during the meeting that the e-cigarette could be a starting point for children to use traditional tobacco.
“I would think just intuitively, especially for kids, that it’s probably more like a gateway to cigarettes,” he said.
Allison Justice, a UF mass communications graduate student, participated in preliminary research that suggests e-cigarette advertising messages target adolescents. Justice, 24, said that while some of the messages could persuade cigarette smokers to transition to the e-cigarette, the ads could also spike a curiosity in children.
“Our youth generation is the e-generation,” Justice said. “Anything electronic, they want their hands on.”
Although all commissioners were in favor of the motion, the ordinance must go to a second hearing until it can be adopted officially.
[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 4/4/2014 under the headline "Commission votes to control e-cigarettes"]