Sellers of e-cigarettes welcome rule banning sale to minors

Sellers of e-cigarettes welcome rule banning sale to minors

Lisa Ciarlone, of Vaporetti, holds an e-cigarette. (Valley Breeze photo by David Wuerth)

EAST PROVIDENCE - The General Assembly approved legislation last week to prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, but one local seller of "e-cigarettes" says that companies like hers were already policing themselves.

Lisa Ciarlone, founder of Vaporetti on Newport Avenue at the East Providence/Pawtucket line, said that a group of Rhode Island e-cigarette companies welcomes the new legislation but its members were already working hard to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors.

"We always support any ban on e-cigarettes to minors," she said.

Vaporetti, which has now opened a retail store, was the first refillable e-cigarette seller in the state back in 2011, said Ciarlone, but the industry keeps growing as more people start smoking the vapor-emitting e-cigarettes as an alternative to traditional smoking.

She and owners of 10 other e-cigarette companies are so vigilant about not giving a minor an e-cigarette that they will kick someone out of their store if they don't have a valid ID showing that they are older than 18, said Ciarlone.

The legislation approved last week by the General Assembly was sponsored by Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio, a Democrat from District 4 in Providence and North Providence, and by Rep. Helio Melo, a Democrat from District 64 in East Providence. The legislation will also require an annual license for anyone selling or distributing the products in Rhode Island.

"These may not be real cigarettes, but the objective is to deliver nicotine to the user," said Ruggerio. "Getting kids hooked on nicotine through an e-cigarette is, as far as I'm concerned, no better than getting them started on regular cigarettes. If we believe in protecting the health of young people, we need to keep these electronic smoking devices out of their hands."

The newly formed Independent Vapor Outlets of Rhode Island supported the bill, said Ciarlone, though they strongly opposed and fought another measure that would have taxed e-cigarettes at 80 percent of their wholesale value.

Ciarlone thanked legislators for listening to concerns from e-cigarette vendors about the 80 percent tax, saying the General Assembly is proving to be more friendly to business in recent months.

The ban on e-cigarettes only affirms what so many sellers are already doing, said Ciarlone, which is being vigilant to protect this newer industry.

The e-cigarette vendors were not properly portrayed as opposing a ban on e-cigarettes to minors in 2013, said Ciarlone. They simply wanted certain amendments to a bill that would have banned minors from buying e-cigarettes, but favored the idea of the ban. Gov. Lincoln Chafee ended up vetoing last year's bill. Chafee Communications Director Faye Zuckerman did not say this week whether the governor would sign the 2014 bill.

E-cigarettes are electronic nicotine delivery systems. Often shaped like cigarettes or cigars, they deliver nicotine to a user in the form of vapor. They ordinarily consist of battery-operated heating elements and replaceable cartridges that contain nicotine or other substances.

According to information provided by the Department of Health, e-cigarette experimentation and use doubled among U.S. middle and high school students during the 2011-2012 calendar years. E-cigarette marketing on websites includes youthful appeals, with claims of increased social status, enhanced social activity and romance, according to a news release from the Statehouse. Attractive flavors of the e-cigarettes being sold, including creamy milk chocolate, mint, coffee and cherry, also provide appeal.

The legislation approved last week would prohibit the sale and use of those products by anyone under the age of 18. It would also require stores where these items are sold and which already post signs prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors to post new signs that list the prohibition not only for cigarettes and tobacco but also for "electronic nicotine delivery system products."

The bill also requires any person engaging in the business of selling e-cigarette products, including distributors and dealers, to secure a license annually from the Department of Health, with a separate application and license required for each place of business operated by the license applicant. The fee for a license is not to exceed $25. Any individual cited for a violation of the licensing requirement would face a fine of $500.

Prohibitions on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors have been enacted in more than 36 other states.

Ciarlone said she and others are not pursuing new smokers. E-cigarettes are for adult smokers only, she said, and she will actually turn away new smokers if they come in.

Though she and others make no health claims, she herself was a 28-year smoker who was able to quit smoking cigarettes in favor of "e-cigs," said Ciarlone. Millions of people are no longer smoking cigarettes, she said, and that's something she can get behind.

"I believe in what we're doing," she said.


I only know 2 people who are hooked on e-cigarettes, and both are living on social security disability payments. How do they afford it? Does disability pay for these things?

I would rather the e-cigarette “pushers” just tell the truth, instead of taking the same hypocritical marketing approach that the real cigarette “pushers” have taken for decades. Everyone that has a quarter of a brain can understand that the only way to make money is to get existing addicts to put down their cigarettes and buy this device, but more important to their business survival is to find NEW (i.e YOUNG PEOPLE) to try their product and hopefully become addicted. Just like the cigarette, patch, and gum companies, their only concern is PROFIT…not health issues associated with the use of their addicting products. If they were truly concerned with the health of their customers, they would not sell a product that administers a drug that has been identified by the health community as a possible carcinogen and universally agreed upon to be as addicting as cocaine and heroin. Hey, I understand the concept of capitalism is to make as much money as you can…just don’t lie to us about what you’re up to. You’re a liar if you are selling e-cigarettes and saying that you care about people…minors or not. We’ve heard this all before, and it makes you sound like an idiot and also makes you a hypocrite.

It's all GOOD.
She does care and she cares DEEPLY. She is no hypocrite.

ANY smoker who chooses a vaporizing device to deliver nicotine INSTEAD of that cigarette IS making a less harmful choice. And if they QUIT smoking, they are prolonging their lives.
Shame on you "Stuck in the Valley" for your lack of support and your general ignorance of those who are making these better choices.
Kudos Lisa, and BRAVO for getting this message out here.
It's positive and it's honest and it's the future.

Answer to "Ex-smoker's" comment, NO. Most e-cigs are less costly than cigarettes. Please encourage your friends to continue on and to quit smoking cigarettes, completely.

Because of our fight to use electronic nicotine devices so far, has enabled the user to continue using this product, INSTEAD of smoking.

Support Vaping, Ban Smoking :)

You ignorant SOB.. how dare you talk this way about people who are trying above and beyond while risking it all to help the well being of others. Your children are probably embarrassed to be related to you. You close minded POS I guarantee you have absolutely no proof or information that discredits this honest vendor. EVERY GODDAMN PERSON WHO SMOKES A CIGARETTE WISHES THEY WERENT ADDICTED TO THEM. I am willing to bet top dollar you have family members and friends who smoke who can benefit from this product. You do not need "new customers" you arrogant bastard you need old customers who are DYING from the side effects of a traditional cigarette. OPEN YOUR FCKING EYES you conservative prick.... our nurses our teachers our lawyers our single moms and hard working dads smoke cigarettes and wish they didnt. They funnel their money into the pockets of these huge corporations that do NOTHING to help Rhode Islands local economy.. only help employ teenagers to work tobacco fields in the Carolinas. But one honest person wants to make some money helping others and you are on a public forum discrediting them.. You need to get your head checked, call your family and apologize for being an ignorant asshole the last umpteen years of your miserable life. Open a window and let some sun in your dark hearted creature. You are fcking make me so sick to my stomach I feel like spitting on the computer screen wishing it was you. And I hope you sir or madam lose a lung and come crawling to these people for help.

"Stuck in the valley" you are a dumb ignorant troll and I hope it stays that way. Please do not continue to reproduce..

I hope to one day visit one of these shops and do anything I can to support its growth in this lousy state.