By Bill Cotterell
TALLAHASSEE Fla. (Reuters) - People under age 18 in Florida will be banned from buying electronic cigarettes under a bill that Republican Governor Rick Scott signed into law on Friday.
It was already illegal for minors to buy tobacco cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco. The new law, which takes effect on July 1, prohibits the sale to minors of any "nicotine dispensing device," including the electronic smoking devices, known as e-cigarettes, increasingly popular among some U.S. teenagers.
For first-time offenders, the penalty for puffing is a $25 civil fine, or 16 hours of community service. Anyone under the age of 18 who is caught three times risks losing a driver's license.
"Florida will now stand strong to keep these products out of the hands of kids," said state Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Republican from Fort Myers who sponsored the legislation.
She noted that the e-cigarettes, sometimes called vamping systems, can deliver a strong dose of nicotine by heating an oil element that produces a smoke-like vapor that users inhale.
The law makes it a misdemeanor to sell vapor smoking devices to minors and requires stores to post signs warning of the ban.
(Editing by Letitia Stein and Will Dunham)