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Lawyer Michael Avenatti arrested on a domestic violence charge. Also on the Thursday rundown: More testimony on Ohio's "anti-protest" bill; and we'll take you to the Dakotas to celebrate American Education Week.

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VA Lawmakers Get Busy on E-Cigarette Laws

PHOTO: Electronic cigarettes are growing in popularity, and while they may appear to be less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, experts say more research about their safety is needed. CREDIT: smokefree.gov
PHOTO: Electronic cigarettes are growing in popularity, and while they may appear to be less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, experts say more research about their safety is needed. CREDIT: smokefree.gov
February 27, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. - Electronic cigarettes often are advertised as a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes, and their flashy packaging can appeal to young demographics. Virginia lawmakers have said "yes" to bills this week (House Bill 484 and Senate Bill 96) limiting access by minors and paving the way for e-cigs to be banned in schools.

E-cigarettes provide users with nicotine through a liquid solution that also contains other substances and flavorings. Because they were invented only a decade ago and are not yet regulated, Thomas Glynn with the American Cancer Society said, their safety is unknown.

"Because there are more than 250 e-cigarette companies making e-cigarettes right now, some of them do have contaminants in them, as the CDC has shown, and that's a concern," Glynn said.

A CDC (Centers for Disease and Prevention) survey found that from 2011 to 2012, e-cigarettes doubled in popularity among middle- and high-school students.

Glynn said it is possible that e-cigarettes could be helpful aids for those trying to quit smoking. However, he said, more research and regulation is needed.

"Every time you light a cigarette, you're inhaling more than 7,000 chemicals; 60 of those are carcinogenic. With e-cigarettes, from what we know so far - and I emphasize that - they should be considerably less harmful," he said.

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed a rule that would allow the agency to regulate e-cigarettes as it does tobacco products.

According to Consumer Reports, sales of e-cigarettes totaled $1.5 billion in 2013, nearly triple the previous year.



Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - VA