It turns out that our home state is considering legislation that, if successful, could serve as a model for others in terms of regulating youth vaping. It’s part of a larger national movement that includes raising the age for purchase of tobacco products from 18 to 21.
I don’t know how successful age limits alone can be, given the American tradition of early experimentation with alcohol, tobacco, etc. In many areas, kids are closer to 12 than 18 when they start. But a few of the key changes in the proposed state bill seem more promising:
- Sales of tobacco products would for the first time require a license. That would also apply to e-cigs and vaping.
- State agencies would be tasked with random inspections of vendors, with consequences for violations, including fines and suspensions.
- A repeat offender would be subject to permanent revocation of a retail license on the basis of having sold tobacco products to an underage person on four occasions over a 3 year period. True, we’d still have to catch them at it — easier said than done.
Not surprisingly, there’s been considerable resistance to the proposed changes from within the e-smoking industry itself. By now, a vast number of stores sell these products, following a long period of uinhibited expansion. It sometimes feels as if there’s a vape shop on every corner. Industry lobbyists argue that regulations are unnecessary, represent more government overreach, and would put many small sellers out of business due to the expense of compliance.
Nice try. Many of those same businesses have marketed and sold vape products to underage kids. Now they face a threat to that windfall revenue. Of course they object.
Still, it’s difficult to believe they couldn’t see change coming. It’s been a hot topic in the media and within the industry itself for a number of years now.
The White House did show early signs of pursuing restrictions but backed off, allegedly for fear of political repercussions with an election coming. The new FDA head, however, promises to renew efforts in that direction.
We can hope. Meanwhile I’m happy to see states taking action on their own. If enough states do, maybe the Feds will join in.