MURPHY, Texas — It's an exploding industry worth nearly $2 billion in the U.S. alone. And with endorsements from celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and Charlie Sheen, some say the popularity of electronic cigarettes is outpacing regulation.
New rules are expected to be issued in the next few months by the FDA. But no one knows how tough they'll be.
So on Tuesday night, the town of Murphy took things into its own hands with a City Council vote to ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors.
The proposed ordinance also called for restrictions on selling e-cigarettes, but Council members wanted more time and data to think about that.
Larry Moore owns En Fuego, a cigar lounge in Murphy. Moore is all for adding the battery-operated devices to the city's smoking ordinance, if it means keeping them out of the hands of children.
"If it involves young people, yes, let's have some sort of regulations," he said. "I'm not big into regulations; it's something we have to live by, though."
Murphy currently does not have any e-cigarette shops, and city leaders will consider making it much more difficult to locate here.
The proposal before the City Council regulates the sale of e-cigarette products in the same way the town deals with the sale of tobacco products. It would make it illegal for minors to purchase or possess e-cigarettes, except in limited circumstances.
Tracy Jones owns Hot Wicked Vapors, e-cigarette stores in Plano and Richardson. Jones says she's having a hard time understanding why Murphy would regulate e-cigarettes the same way as tobacco products.
"It's kind of a shame when they lump you in with the tobacco industry, because it's not really the tobacco industry," she said, adding that her business already refuses to sell e-cigarette products to anyone under 18.
Jones said says the Murphy proposal would deter businesses like hers from opening there.
"It's a deterrent for business owners that want to expand into certain markets," the store owner said.
Larry Moore admits regulating e-cigarette trade poses an interesting dilemma for North Texas cities, but he says anything that will keep kids away is something he can support.
Murphy City Manager James Fisher said other communities are going to have to start dealing with this mysterious technology. He said Tuesday night's decision was about defining what e-cigarettes are and putting it on the city books.
Fisher added that the Council will receive new data by April or May and make future decisions based on that information.