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E-cigarettes bill benefitted Big Tobacco

Published: Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 11:25 a.m. CST

Over the last 30 years, we’ve made great strides reducing smoking in Iowa and working to keep minors from picking up the habit. In just the last few years, electronic cigarettes have become popular and accessible to more Iowans.  I was very disappointed in a bill passed earlier this week by a wide-margin of 76-22.  I am glad I was one of the 22 to cast ‘no’ votes.

This bill was presented as a ‘ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.’  After researching the bill and reading it closely, it became clear that HF 2019 would do more harm than good.

I voted in opposition to what tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds lobbyists wanted.  I sided with the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the Iowa Public Health Association in opposing this bill.  Frankly, I’m worked up about its passage because the tobacco lobbyists won and Iowa’s kids lost!

As passed, the bill would not prohibit the sale of all e-cigarettes to minors.  In addition the bill:

• Provides no penalty for retailers who sell products to minors.

• Allows for free samples of ‘alternative nicotine products’ and ‘vapor products’ in places where free samples of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products are prohibited.

• Exempts e-cigarettes and ‘alternative nicotine products’ from the same taxes placed on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

• Doesn’t require retailers who sell these products to have permits or wholesalers and distributors of these products to be licensed in Iowa.

• Allows sales of e-cigarettes through vending machines even though sales of cigarettes are prohibited.

• Prohibits local municipalities from further regulating the sale of e-cigarettes and some nicotine products in order to protect public health.

This bill was just another case of false advertising from the tobacco industry and it’s regretful that most representatives bought the false claim.   I introduced a simple, straight-forward bill to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors during my first term.  It was free of influence from tobacco giant RJ Reynolds and any other lobbyists.  I wish we’d voted on it.

We missed an opportunity to protect our kids in the House Chamber this week, and I hope the Senate will add amendments to make this bill better before it winds up on the governor’s desk.  I am also concerned that the bill may open loopholes from regulation for future nicotine products because it’s not a comprehensive approach.

I am proud to represent Newton, Baxter, Colfax, Kellogg, Lambs Grove, Mingo, Ira, Prairie City, and Valeria.  Feel free to contact me anytime via phone at (641) 521-9260 or by email at dan.kelley@legis.iowa.gov. Please visit www.electkelley.com. On Facebook, I look forward to accepting your friend request.