The National Association of Convenience Stores is urging its members not to sell e-cigarettes to minors, the Associated Press reports. The group represents more than 151,280 convenience stores.
The group says e-cigarettes should be treated like other age-restricted tobacco products. In a statement, the group notes convenience stores are the largest retail channel for e-cigarette sales, with overall sales of almost $540 million last year. “Given the uncertain status of e-cigarettes, it just makes sense that convenience stores check IDs as part of the more than 4.5 million age-verification checks that we already conduct every day,” said Henry Armour, the group’s president and CEO.
Armour told the AP, “We’re sitting on the front lines. … It is our responsibility to make sure that children don’t have access to (e-cigarettes) in the event that they are risky products and could lead to somebody starting to smoke tobacco products.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to regulate e-cigarettes. According to the article, the FDA will likely ban sales to minors and impose restrictions on marketing. More than two dozen states have instituted laws prohibiting e-cigarette sales to minors. States are weighing questions including who should be able to use e-cigarettes, how they should be taxed, whether they should be subject to indoor smoking bans and whether they are tobacco products.
Health advocacy groups including the American Lung Association want e-cigarettes to be classified as tobacco products. They say the devices, which use flavored vapors, are marketed toward children. E-cigarette makers want the devices to be seen as a safer alternative to cigarettes, which can be used to quit smoking altogether.