The Indiana Attorney General unveiled a proposal today that would include electronic cigarettes in Indiana’s statewide smoking ban, among other changes aimed at curbing the use of e-cigs by young people.
The proposed legislation would make the following changes to Indiana law:
- Include e-cigarettes in Indiana’s statewide smoking ban
- Tax e-cigarettes similarly to traditional tobacco products
- Require e-liquid containers be sold in child-resistant packaging
- Require “vape shops” that sell e-cigarettes to be licensed, which would give the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission more authority to cite businesses for violating existing state law, including selling the products to minors
“These products can be cheap, easy to get and effectively disguise drug use because ‘vaping’ produces no smoke or smell,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement. “My goal is to get ahead of the curve unlike what happened with traditional tobacco products, and implement tools to reduce access to youth before we see more kids addicted to nicotine.”
More teenagers use e-cigarettes than traditional tobacco products, according to the 2014 Monitoring the Future survey released in December.
Before the attorney general’s announcement, House Public Policy Committee Chair Ed Clere, R-New Albany, expressed interest in a discussion about whether e-cigs should be included in the statewide smoking ban.
“Obviously e-cigs don’t have the tar and some of the other chemicals that are present in regular cigarettes, but I don’t know enough at this point about the science and I’m interested in looking at that and learning more,” Clere said.
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s Brianna Herndon, however said e-cigarettes are not a focus of her organization.
“We don’t want to get distracted from other tobacco control policies and other issues that we have around tobacco control here in Indiana,” Herndon said. “So while this certainly is an issue that we expect will come up, we want to continue to remind the legislators and the public that Indiana still has a serious tobacco problem.”
Herndon says the focus around e-cigarettes should encourage the federal government to more strongly regulate the product.
The FDA in April proposed extending its authority to regulate e-cigarettes similar to other tobacco products, but it has not issued a final ruling.