As dozens of states call for regulations on e-cigarettes, many in the industry support the idea of restrictions on age, advertising,and ingredients.
As dozens of states call for regulations on e-cigarettes, many in the industry support the idea of restrictions on buyer age, advertising, and product ingredients.
On Tuesday, Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper joined 37 other attorneys general in signing a letter to the Food and Drug Administration asking the agency to being regulating e-cigarettes. That letter cited a number of concerns about the products, which dispense nicotine using vapor, not smoke.
The letter asks the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes as "tobacco products" by adding age restrictions, bans on certain child-appealing flavors, and changes to advertising.
"I absolutely agree with all those concerns, we have the same concerns" said Terri Livezey, who owns an electronic cigarette and accessories store Knoxville Vapor with her husband, Bill.
The couple, like most of their clients, are former smokers-turned-vapors. They started their East Tennessee business at the Great Smokies Flea Market before opening a store in Bearden this week.
Even before potential FDA regulations, the Livezeys refuse to sell to minors.
"We, really really want to make sure that we're not selling to people under the age of 18," Livezey said. "And that's a personal preference. We have kids."
"In fact, our e-liquid line does not contain things like cotton candy, Mountain Dew, Red Bull. It's out there, it's on the market, we don't sell it. And we wont sell it for that reason."
Johnathan Pitt is a customer at Knoxville Vapor, and he agrees with the Livezey's about age restrictions.
"Nicotine isn't something for kids. I mean it's an adult product and it should be kept that way," he said.
Pitt and his wife both switched from smoking to electronic cigarettes, after his wife suffered a health scare. He is quick to praise that decision.
"The bad smells or people looking at you like you're breaking the law-- it's just overall a better feeling, I can breathe again. I can taste my food. Water even tastes better," he said.
Aside from keeping e-cigarettes away from children, Livezey said regulations could be a good way for customers to understand product ingredients. She said the Knoxville Vapor staff is very particular about the e-liquid lines they sell, but without an industry control -- not everyone is so careful.
"We tell all of our customers, 'Be mindful. Ask your suppliers. If you go somewhere else, that's fine, just ask them: 'Where is it made, how is it manufactured, what ingredients are going into it?'" she explained.
She expects little change at their store if any regulations are enacted by the FDA, but she believes the online sales will likely stop as a way to better regulate the age of buyers.
"I think what's going to happen is the FDA is going to start controlling the online sales of those nicotine products, and we agree with that. We think that's right."