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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon To Regulate E-Cigarettes Like Regular Cigarettes

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network
File photo. Starting in January, people won't be able to use e-cigarettes indoors in public places in Oregon.

People who use electronic cigarettes in Oregon will have fewer places to light up starting in January. That's because of a new law that takes effect with the start of the year.

From a distance, someone using an e-cigarette might be mistaken for someone smoking a traditional cigarette. The device heats up small amounts of a liquid that usually contains nicotine. The heat turns the liquid into a vapor, which the user inhales, then exhales.

That cloud of vapor is what is sometimes mistaken for secondhand smoke.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the potential risks of e-cigarettes have not been determined. Oregon lawmakers voted by a wide margin to classify the product the same way as regular cigarettes. That means people won't be able to use them indoors in public places such as restaurants, bars or other workplaces.

The law also bans the sale of e-cigarettes to people under age 18.