VIRGINIA BEACH -- In response to the growing number of young people experimenting with smokeless tobacco products, Virginia has banned the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.
E-cigarettes have been unregulated for years. Beginning July 1, stores will no longer be able to sell any type of alternative nicotine products to minors.
E-cigarettes are sold as a safer alternative to cigarettes and are supposed to help people kick the habit. The battery-powered devices provide inhaled doses of nicotine through a vaporized solution. You don’t see smoke- just vapor.
Marilyn Stevens says she had no idea kids could purchase the products.
"I thought it would be the same rules that apply to regular cigarettes, tobacco cigarettes in general, so I was surprised that they could purchase them,” said Stevens.
Lawmakers say the candy-flavored products target kids and could potentially hook them on nicotine, which can lead to a smoking habit.
According to the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, retailers will have until July 1 to begin following the law that passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. Those that don't obey the new law face civil penalties, including a fine of up to $2,500.
Virginia joins at least 28 other states that have prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
“I think it’s a very good idea because, like most things, it’s probably best to wait until you're an adult and can make a better judgment with a little more experience in life. And it'll help control that and help kids make a better choice,” said Stevens.