A new bill has been proposed in the Arizona State Senate which would effectively allow vape products to be treated as tobacco.
Bill SB 1009 would bring vape products under the rule of the existing state law, last updated in 2013, which currently prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 18. It comes via Senator-elect Heather Carter of the Republican Party.
She considers current law to be obsolete, failing to anticipate and adapt to the rise of new products which deliver nicotine and mirroring the FDA’s rhetoric on underage use:
“If the current statutory language was working, we wouldn’t see the problem we have today. What we do to prevent underage individuals from purchasing and using tobacco should be the same for vaping products.”
Carter also cited the disputed “gateway effect” as a justification:
“Products containing nicotine should be treated like other product that contain nicotine. Essentially, e-cigarettes, vapes, e-pens – or whatever else you want to call them – have become the training wheels to develop future smokers.”
SB 1009 currently has some bi-partisan support, finding co-sponsors in Senator Kate Brophy McGee (R-Phoenix) and Sean Bowie, (D-Chandler).
Naturally, the proposal has been met with stiff opposition from the state’s vape companies and adjacent advocacy groups.
One of the more outspoken critics was Steve Johnson, the Executive Director of a vape trade association called the Arizona Smoke Free Business Alliance. Citing recent research, Johnson said:
“We are opposed to classifying these products as tobacco. There’s a lot of good data that specifically shows these products are up to 95 percent less harmful than tobacco.”
Johnson remains in favour of limiting nicotine access to minors, or anyone else who shouldn’t be using e-cigarettes. He does not feel such a measure will help minors or smokers.
“It’s long been established that nicotine is not a good thing for minors, and we want to do whatever we can to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of youths …Lumping them together is not the solution.”