A bill to regulate “electronic cigarette” sales to minors in the same way tobacco products are regulated will have to wait for the beginning of the next session of the Oregon Legislature.

House Bill 4073, which would add vapor or “e-cigarettes” to existing state laws regarding tobacco products, fell victim to the short legislative session that ended March 7, but supporters are determined not to walk away from the issue.

“We’ll definitely be coming back to work on e-cigarettes,” said state Rep. John Davis (R-Wilsonville).

Davis, a co-sponsor of HB 4073, said he believes it is important to ban e-cigarettes for minors.

“Currently there are no restrictions on buying e-cigarettes or using them,” Davis explained. “The science is still out on them, and I don’t want minors getting started on something when we’re not sure of the science.”

HB 4073 would amend laws related to consumption of tobacco products by minors to include references to consumption of vapor products, “including crime of endangering welfare of minor and other criminal offenses and civil penalties related to use or acquisition of tobacco by minor.”

The bill would also make it “unlawful to distribute free tobacco or vapor products to persons under 18 as part of a marketing strategy to encourage the use of tobacco products or vapor products.”

Sale of the nicotine solution cartridges used in e-cigarettes to those younger than 18 would also be illegal.

In the proposed bill, “vapor products” are legally defined as “an electronic device designed to heat nicotine solutions and other solutions for the purpose of providing vapor to be inhaled by the user of the device.”

Although he was not a co-sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Joe Gallegos (D-Hillsboro) said he believes there is a need for action on this issue.

“I serve on the Human Services and Housing Committee, and heard lively debates about e-cigarettes during the recent legislative session,” Gallegos said. “Personally, I am particularly concerned with the fact that kids in Oregon can currently buy e-cigarettes. About 27 states have already prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and I think we’d be wise to do the same here.”

Locally, the use of e-cigarettes appears to be covered within Hillsboro’s schools. The Hillsboro School District has language in its “Standards of Student Conduct” handbook for 2013-14 that bans e-cigarettes, although not explicitly.

Under the “tobacco” heading in the handbook, the following text appears: “Sale, possession, and/or use of any tobacco substance or imitation products, including smokeless, in any form on school premises or in the observable vicinity of the school campus … are strictly prohibited.”

“Luckily, it sounds like we were forward-thinking,” said Beth Graser, communications director for the school district.

The bill regarding e-cigarettes had backers on both sides of the aisle. A total of 34 representatives co-sponsored the bill.

“The bill had broad bipartisan support, but got caught in the end of the session,” Davis said.

Davis represents the 26th Legislative District, which includes parts of Hillsboro and Aloha as well as the Wilsonville area.

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