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Gutted E-Cigarette Bill Passes House

Flickr: Lindsay Fox
An electronic cigarette

The Utah House unanimously passed a bill Friday that would put harsher penalties on stores that sell electronic cigarettes to minors, but not before passing a substitute bill that drastically changed the sponsor’s original intent.

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, sponsored HB112 with the intent of allowing the Utah Department of Health to set safety standards on electronic cigarettes that would regulate things like the percentage and quality of nicotine allowed. He says without these regulations there is nothing currently protecting the consumer.

“The FDA does not currently have any guidelines on E-Cigarettes," Ray says. "Therefore we have to have the ability within the state health department to do that. We’re not bucking the trend, we’re setting the guidelines.”

But a substitute bill by Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, eliminated the parts of the bill that would give the Department of Health that authority. It would also allow adults to purchase e-cigarettes online after verifying their age at purchase and at delivery. Gibson says he supports the effort to keep children away from e-cigarettes but that it doesn’t justify taking away the rights of adults.

“We’re talking about adults," Gibson says. "Locks keep honest people honest. If you want to get into a place you’re going to get into it. There are no fail-safes. But to keep adults from being able to do what they want I think is wrong.”

Rep. Ray says the substitute bill went too far and that after talking with Rep. Gibson he believes he’ll at least be able to get the safety standards put back into the bill when it heads to the Senate. 

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