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Proposed Md. Law Would Treat E-Cigs Like Traditional Tobacco

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(Photo credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — A Maryland delegate is pushing for legislation that would apply all the rules placed on regular tobacco by the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act to electronic cigarettes.

That means “vaping,” which has been described as a safer alternative to traditional smoking, could eventually be banned in public meeting places, public transportation vehicles, and indoor places of employment including restaurants, bars and offices.

Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that give users the sensation of smoking. The device vaporizes a liquid contained inside of it, which users can then inhale. The liquid usually contains nicotine, and sometimes flavoring.

House Bill 1291 is co-sponsored by Montgomery County Democrat Aruna Miller and 18 other Maryland lawmakers.

“I am not here today to advocate against the personal and private use of e-cigs by adults, though they do contain nicotine–an extremely addictive drug,” Miller said in a committee hearing on the bill.

“Rather, I am here today to advocate for responsible public policy that would prohibit the vaping of e-cigarettes in places where traditional smoking is prohibited. HB1291 limits the impact of e-cigarette vapor on the health and safety of the public-at-large.”

Miller was also instrumental in crafting legislation to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to Maryland minors. That bill was signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2012.

Industry officials argue e-cigarettes pose a lower health risk than standard cigarettes and are often used as a transition tool for smokers looking to quit.

Public health advocates, however, fear e-cigarettes are being marketed to children as a gateway to nicotine addiction and have noted that the potential health risks of the products are still largely unknown.

(TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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