E-cigarette bills to be heard this week

Posted at 8:45 PM, Feb 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-17 23:50:43-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah could become the first state in the nation to pass e-cigarette legislation under a bill being considered this week.

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, is sponsoring HB 112, which would place regulations on vaping shops and e-cigarettes. It is scheduled to be heard before a House committee on Wednesday.

"We're just trying to keep them out of the hands of kids and I think that's what you'll see in the legislation," said Ray.

The bill would regulate the "juice" in e-cigarettes, manufacturing processes, ban Internet sales and prohibit vaping shops from claiming the products can be used as smoking cessation devices.

The federal government has yet to weigh in on e-cigarettes. Recently, TV advertisements for RJ Reynolds' version of an e-cigarette began airing on stations in Salt Lake City, which is a "test market" for them.

Many local health departments have been pushing for regulation of e-cigarettes. The Weber-Morgan Health Department has said the Ogden area has the highest youth adoption rates for e-cigarettes in the state, possibly the nation.

Vaping industry groups have said they support some level of regulation, as seen in Rep. Ray's bill.

"We're not opposed to regulation as long as it's smart and sensible regulation and they don't overreach their bounds," said Aaron Frazier, the director of the group Utah Vapers.

Frazier said his group met with Rep. Ray last week and is opposed to the portions of the bill that would ban Internet sales and regulate some of the nicotine ingredients in e-cigarettes.

HB 112 is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday morning in the House Health and Human Services Committee. Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, has a related bill: SB 12 would raise the smoking age in Utah from 19 to 21.

That bill is awaiting a hearing before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.