SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - A bill aimed at regulating electronic cigarettes in California has died in the state legislature, its author said on Thursday.
The bill would have classified electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, banned their use in public places and ramped up enforcement against selling them to minors.
The measure passed the state Senate but stalled after an Assembly committee removed the provision classifying e-cigarettes as tobacco products.
The bill's author, San Francisco Senator Mark Leno, a Democrat, then withdrew his support, saying the nicotine in e-cigarettes is derived from tobacco, and that the federal government also classifies nicotine products as tobacco products.
"I don't know how a rational person can conclude they are not tobacco products," Leno said during debate over the bill.
He said millions of middle and high school students in the United States use e-cigarettes, which come in such flavors as bubble gum and chocolate.
In withdrawing his support, Leno said he spoke "on behalf of the next generation of Californians who will become addicted to nicotine as a result of your vote."
"I no longer believe in it," Leno said. "I disassociate myself from it. It's a very dangerous bill now."
The bill, which would have made California the 23rd state to regulate e-cigarettes in some way, was introduced amid growing concern about the health risks from e-cigarettes, also known as vapor cigarettes or vapes, which are not lit or smoked like their old-fashioned counterparts, but do generally release nicotine in a heated liquid.
The bill never received a vote in the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, which handles many tobacco-related bills.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Eric Beech)