FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE/AP) – A bill to regulate the manufacturing at e-cigarette stores in the state could soon be signed into law. If passed, it would be the first state regulations for the liquids used in electronic cigarettes and the practice known as “vaping.”
H.B. 1432 was passed on Thursday with a 73-14 vote in the House. The vote endorses the Senate’s proposal that it approved the previous week.
The first to outline the legislation was Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller. When he announced the provisions in the bill at the start of 2015 he said it would curb the growing use of e-cigarettes by Indiana’s youth.
Zoeller proposed the following:
- Requiring “vape shops” that sell e-cigarettes to be licensed, giving the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (ATC) more authority to cite for violations of law, including selling the products to minors.
- Taxing e-cigarettes similarly to traditional tobacco products so that they are less appealing to price-conscious youth.
- Including e-cigarettes in Indiana’s statewide smoking ban.
- Requiring that e-liquid containers be sold in child-resistant packaging to discourage accidental, potentially fatal poisoning through children consuming the liquid.
The bill that’s on its way to Gov. Mike Pence for approval requires e-cigarettes shops to pay $1,000 for a five-year permit. A permit renewal would cost $500.
The legislation has been watched closely by those who work in the industry and health officials.
“E-cigarettes are really not regulated by the FDA,” said Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan. “That’s very concerning so I think this Indiana legislation is a start.”
CravinVapes Chief Executive Officer Shawn Anderson, who oversees the stores in northeast Indiana, agreed that regulation can be good. At the very least, it brings some legitimacy to the industry but sees some potential high hurdles to climb in the future.
“The biggest concern is walking that line where we’re able to keep the industry alive yet not bring a detriment to what we’re able to provide to our consumer base,” said Anderson, who added that the proposed bill adds to the law put in place last year that requires someone to be 18 or older to buy e-cigarettes. “This law actually puts teeth behind that law so the ATC can actually enforce it.”
Anderson and others in the industry worked with state lawmakers on the legislation with the hope it would keep them in business and give lawmakers the confidence that the bill stilled protected consumers. Anderson said required steps in the legislation regarding security measures would be the biggest burden to his business and others in the state.
“If parts of the law are interpreted by the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission in a certain way it could shut down every shop in the state. In the meantime, we will continue to work with legislators. We hope that through the trial and error process that we’ll be able to get it right over the next couple of years.”
Other new regulations in the bill have already been in place by the industry despite not being required to by law, according to Anderson. “A lot of those things we’re already doing,” he said. “I have signs posted on every one of our doors that says you have to be 18 to purchase. You can’t sit at the bar without a valid ID.
“We’ve put millimeter markings on our liquids to show what’s inside. We’ve made sure our bottles have child-proof caps, and we have a clean manufacturing room. We use food-grade dishes, medical-grade syringes, hair nets, and lab coats.”
Dr. McMahan said due to how highly addictive nicotine is, it was smart for the state to take steps to further assure children couldn’t get the products.
“Young people’s brains are still developing so they are more susceptible to the addiction components of nicotine and e-cigarettes,” said McMahan. “There’s nothing good about young people consuming e-cigarettes in any way. I think the most concerning thing is we have enough data now to see that there’s been an explosion in the number of kids who are trying this. People think it’s cool and I think they think it’s not harmful. I think that’s the biggest misconception people have. They think nothing is in there and nicotine is a drug. It’s a stimulant. That’s why people enjoy smoking.”
McMahan and some state lawmakers said they expect the federal government to soon put national regulations in place on the e-cigarette industry.
“On all sides, I’m sure anti-tobacco wants stiffer regulations and I’m sure the vape shops would like a little less but in the end I think we struck a good compromise and have a good starting point,” said Martin Carbaugh, R-District 81. “The feds haven’t even really weighed-in yet and I anticipate they will come in and come up with their own ideas. Hopefully they’ll look at Indiana as a model.”