Oklahoma lawmakers discuss making e-cigarettes a tobacco product, setting minimum age at 18 years

The trend of "vaping" may soon come with a lot more rules here in Oklahoma.

Lawmakers are discussing and amending House Bill 2904, which would classify electronic cigarettes as a tobacco product. It would also set the minimum age to buy an e-cigarette at 18 years old.

Walking into Brookside Vapor Club, it is naturally a little hazy. Hazy is also how e-cig user Ann Slater describes new laws coming through the pipe at the Oklahoma capital.

Slater believes this is just a way for the Capitol to capitalize on the product.

"There's no tobacco whatsoever, it's all vaping. It's the same as doing an asthma inhaler," she said.

An e-cigarette allows the user to control how much or how little nicotine is in the vapor bottle, even none at all, according to Brookside Vapor Club owner Sally Stull. Stull said there is no tobacco in an e-cigarette.

She also believes it is just another way for Oklahoma to make money.

"I really think they're doing it because they're losing a lot on the taxes from traditional cigarettes," said Stull.

A carton of cigarettes costs $40 to $60 and carries a tobacco tax.

A vapor bottle, equal to a carton, is $5.99 and is not taxed like tobacco. Stull believes that will change.

"Whenever I picture tobacco, I picture the brown stuff you can roll up," she said. "I don't know if their idea of tobacco is just 'smoke.' That's what I feel like it is for them."

Slater, who smoked cigarettes for three decades, says she'll never go back, no matter the cost.

"Now, I can smell when people smoke. It really bugs me now. I'm sensitive to it."

To open an e-cigarette store, the prospective owner would only need a sales tax permit. If the law changes, Stull believes they would also need a tobacco permit to regulate all the stores.

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