E-cigarette businesses and vapers across California converged on the state Capitol Tuesday urging Gov. Jerry Brown to veto bills that would put vapor products in the same category as tobacco and raise the vaping age from 18 to 21.
More than 70 members of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA), as well as vape shop owners and retailers, condemned the legislation, which they argue could damage the industry and harm public health.
Republican State Senator Joel Anderson joined SFATA representatives on the steps of the Capitol building pleading Brown not to lump vapor products with tobacco products.
The bills are part of a package of six anti-tobacco measures that were passed March 10 but have not been sent to the governor’s desk. “This is not a tobacco product,”protested Jay Oku, sales director of Five Pawns, a manufacturer of eliquids. “What we’re really looking to do is put an end to smoking being the leading cause of preventable deaths.”
If Brown signs the bills and puts e-cigs in the same category as tobacco, it will very likely leave vapor products vulnerable to the same large tax increases that have been placed on regular cigarettes.
Much of the reasoning behind the assault on e-cigarette products is the rapid rise in the number of teens vaping. Public health activists fear e-cigs may hook a new generation on nicotine, despite evidence showing many teens vape products that don’t even contain nicotine.
E-cigarettes are also far less harmful than traditional cigarettes, with a study conducted by Public Health England showing them to be 95 percent safer.
The proposal to raise the vaping age has also been a hot topic of controversy after studies released by both Cornell University and the Yale School of Public Health showed an increase in the vaping age is associated with an increase in teen smoking.
Brown will have 12 calendar days to decide whether to sign them into law once the bill hits his desk.
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