Daily Journal Online - July 28, 2014, Renee Bronaugh
Governor Jay Nixon recently vetoed Senate Bill 841, a legislation that would have prevented minors younger than 18 from purchasing the electronic cigarettes while also exempting the nicotine products from other tobacco sales restrictions.
In a press release, Nixon’s office argued that the bill didn’t go far enough. He said it favored the tobacco industry because it exempted vapor products from the laws and taxes on traditional tobacco cigarettes.
“This bill appears to be nothing more than a thinly disguised and cynical attempt to exempt e-cigarettes from taxes and regulations protecting public health,” Gov. Nixon said. “The FDA is already moving forward to ban the sale of these products to minors. Until more is known about the health effects of these products, letting tobacco companies off the hook with special loopholes would pose a real threat to Missourians’ health now and in the future.”
The day after Nixon vetoed the bill, the American Vaping Association (AVA), a leading advocate for the health benefits of electronic cigarettes, called on the Missouri state legislature to override Nixon’s decision to veto SB 841, in order to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.
“It's common sense that e-cigarettes should not be sold to children,” said Gregory Conley, AVA’s president. “So it’s surprising that Governor Nixon would veto a bill that would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes and other vaping products to minors. The legislation, which passed overwhelmingly, is nearly identical to e-cigarette minor bans that are already law in 41 states.”
Inno-Vape store owner Rodney Greenwalt has a very firm policy that they have held since they first opened their store in Desloge and will continue to hold it.
“I really don’t understand why he did that,” said Greenwalt. “I think if he would have passed it, it would have been a great thing because it’s not a cigarette so I feel it shouldn’t be taxed like a cigarette. I agree with not selling to anyone who is under 18, so I really don’t see where there was a problem. But I think with all the FDA rulings that are still up in the air states are kind of hanging in limbo waiting to see what the FDA does so then they can make their rulings off of that.”
Greenwalt said the fact there is still testing being done is actually a good thing because the longer the FDA holds their commenters open about their proposed regulations, the better it is because the more testing gets done and there will be more documentation in regards to e-cigarettes.
“I wish it would have signed it that would have made it definite that you have to be 18 to purchase the e-cigs,” said Greenwalt. “I guess they have other ideas or plans. I’m still going to hold my same policy, it’s in the hands of the shop owners to regulate theirselves.”
Quality Vapor Manager Eric Erchien said his company in Farmington doesn’t think minors should be allowed to purchase e-cigarettes so they won’t sell to minors.
“It’s kind of a double edge sword. You don’t want younger kids getting on nicotine or tobacco because in the wrong hands it could be a gateway to actual cigarettes and if we can prevent that, it should be done,” said Erchien. “At the same time it really comes down to you as a person. No one wants kids smoking cigarettes but at the same time there is no reason for them to be using electronic cigarettes either.”
Some cities have decided to matter into their own hands. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the Chesterfield City Council voted 6-1 Monday in favor of an ordinance that would prohibit the sale and possession of vapor products or e-cigarettes to those under 18.
Currently the states that have banned minors from purchasing e-cigarettes are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Missouri, on the other hand, currently has no e-cigarette regulations and because of this, it is currently legal to market and sell e-cigarettes to minors, as well as use the devices in public places.
An advocate for e-cigarettes, Bistate Regional Advocates for Vaping Education (BRAVE) stated in a press release that they strongly condemn the actions of Nixon in vetoing the bill and allowing the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors in Missouri.
“This reckless veto endangers the public health in Missouri, and we call on the same bipartisan super-majority of the Legislature that passed this bill to act swiftly to override this indefensible veto,” said AJ Moll, vice president of BRAVE. “The bill would have done nothing to impact the pending FDA regulation, which may be years away and the governor’s statement to the contrary is reckless.
"Senate Bill 841 is common sense regulation that would have prevented the sales of these products to minors, because these products are intended as an alternative for adults that may wish to quit smoking. And because Governor Nixon apparently wants these products to be legally available to anyone, including minors, we implore the legislature to override this veto.”
According to Nixon’s press release this past April, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new regulations to place e-cigarettes under the same restrictions as traditional tobacco products, including prohibiting the sale or marketing of e-cigarettes to minors, or advertising e-cigarettes on television.
The AVA had a very different outlook on the situation stating that the governor’s views on e-cigarettes are out of step with the rest of the nation.
“Only two states apply ‘sin’ taxes to e-cigarette sales and only three states define e-cigarette use as ‘smoking.’“ Conley said. “The legislature should reject the pressure tactics of special interest groups like the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association that want to hinder e-cigarettes without justification. These groups have said that unless state legislatures are willing to treat e-cigarettes the same as tobacco, they would oppose other, far more popular legislation such as a ban to minors. They are, in effect, using children as pawns in their war on e-cigarettes. That’s wrong and counterproductive.”
"It’s sad when special interest groups put politics before kids. It's even sadder when a governor does too,” Conley added. “Missouri lawmakers should embrace the consensus view that e-cigarette sales should be banned to minors and override Governor Nixon’s veto of SB 841.”
E-cigarettes are designed to look like cigarettes, are often flavored in ways that appeal directly to children and adolescents, including candy and menthol, and may be used as a bridge to other addictive substances, including conventional cigarettes.
The American Cancer Society; the American Lung Association; the American Heart Association; the Missouri State Medical Association; the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians; the Missouri Academy of Family Physicians; the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids; and Tobacco Free Missouri have all previously called on Gov. Nixon to veto Senate Bill 841.
Stated in the governor’s full veto message was the concern that through direct and second hand exposure, e-cigarette smokers inhale an aerosol containing nicotine, which is addictive and derived from tobacco; propylene glycol, which can cause eye and respiratory irritation; and also likely formaldehyde, a known carcinogen and acetaldehyde, a possible carcinogen.
Propylene glycol is a clear, colorless, slightly syrupy liquid at room temperature. It may exist in air in the vapor form, although propylene glycol must be heated or briskly shaken to produce a vapor. It is commonly used as a stabilizer to keep things held together, and keep them from evaporating in addition to keeping foods moist.
It’s used in many of the foods consumed today and the FDA deems it safe for human consumption. In addition, because of its water-retaining properties, propylene glycol is the compound of choice for delivering atomized medications. It has been used in asthma inhalers and nebulizers since the 1950’s
The veto message also stated that e-cigarettes are growing in popularity with sales projected to top $1.5 billion in the United States this year and they should not enact an outright ban on regulating and taxing as “tobacco products” these tobacco derived products that contain harmful substances, including carcinogens, particularly when the short and long-term health risks of these products are still being evaluated. In addition they are increasingly manufactured by big tobacco companies.