Senate panel snuffs out e-cigarettes bill

Politics,News,Business,Senate,E Cigarettes

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Senate committee has snuffed out a bill to regulate the sale of electronic cigarettes in Utah.

The Senate Business and Labor Committee unanimously voted Friday against the measure, saying further study of it is needed.

Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, suggested studying the issue for a year, citing concerns over the bill's provisions and a desire not to interfere with the rights of adults for the devices, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

With less than a week left in the legislative session, Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said, he also favored an interim study because "we need to get this one right."

Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said the fact that eight different versions of the bill were proposed is a sign that it needs more study.

But the bill's sponsor, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, said he's perplexed because a revised version of the bill passed the House on a 72-0 vote last week. He championed the measure as an effort to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of Utah's youth.

The committee's action was a "vote against Utah children," Ray told the Deseret News. "We're not going to stop until we have some kind of regulation that's going to protect our kids."

A string of medical groups and local health departments endorsed his efforts Friday, but the e-cigarette industry opposed many of them.

Electronic cigarettes are metal or plastic battery-powered devices resembling traditional cigarettes that heat a liquid nicotine solution, creating vapor that users inhale. Users get nicotine without the chemicals, tar or odor of regular cigarettes.

Last September, 40 attorneys general sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration saying e-cigarettes are being marketed to children through cartoon-like advertising characters and by offering fruit and candy flavors, much like cigarettes were once marketed to hook new smokers.

The health effects of e-cigarettes have not been adequately studied, and the ingredients are not regulated, the letter said.

Among other provisions, Ray's bill would have required the state Tax Commission to license stores that sell e-cigarettes just as it licenses stores that sell regular cigarettes. Retailers found to repeatedly sell to children could have their licenses revoked. The measure also would have required more detailed warning labels saying how much nicotine e-cigarettes contain.

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