The State of Indiana is moving to regulate e-cigarettes and the liquids used for “vaping.” The Indiana House and Senate both have passed legislation that would ban sales of the liquids to those under 18, require child-proof caps on containers, and require manufacturing safety standards. However, Indiana does not appear to be moving toward adding e-cigarettes to Indiana’s smoking ban as the state attorney general wanted.
Here’s a summary of what the bill contains according to WBAA radio:
Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, authored a bill including several regulations vape shop owners say they’re comfortable with – prohibiting sales to anyone under 18 years old, ensuring e-liquids are prepared in rooms that are up to commercial food preparation standards, requiring tamper-proof safety caps.
There are other provisions they say go too far, including one that requires them to store three samples of each mixture they create. Indianapolis vape shop owner Shawn Anderson says that requirement would bankrupt him.
“With the amount of samples that I would have to save, because we do batches as small as six milliliters, it would cost me over $1.2 million per year,” he says.
The last thing Indiana should be doing is considering regulations that would diminish the availability of e-cigarettes. In addition, Indiana should keep in mind as they regulate these products they can serve as a smoking cessation aid. A study last year found that e-cigarette users were 60 percent more likely to quit smoking than if they used nicotine patches or gum. If Indiana restricts e-cigarettes, they will subject smokers to the higher health risk of tobacco smoking or force those who do want to quit to use the less-successful means.
Another idea that Indiana lawmakers considered was adding “vaping” to the public smoking ban already in place. However, this would be a bad idea for many reasons. Second-hand e-cigarette vapors are not nearly as harmful as second-hand tobacco smoke. A study found that second-hand e-cigarette vapors contained far fewer harmful chemicals than second-hand tobacco smoke and posed less of a risk to bystanders. Given the minimal risk to non-smokers and non-vapers, adding e-cigarettes to the public smoking ban would be an unnecessary infringement upon personal freedom.
Adding e-cigarettes to the public smoking ban also would eliminate an incentive for tobacco smokers to switch to e-cigarettes. Many people who take up vaping do so as a way to get around public smoking bans. There are likely always going to be people who will smoke as a means of ingesting nicotine. One of the reasons we have public smoking bans, in addition to the public health reasons, is to stigmatize smoking. If the goal is to improve public health, why would lawmakers consider a similar approach toward e-cigarettes? By adding e-cigarettes to the public smoking ban that covers tobacco cigarettes, it will unfairly stigmatize e-cigarette users and discourage people who are looking to quit smoking from using those products.
Many of these regulations are caused by the fear that teens are using e-cigarettes. In fact, a CDC study found that more teens were using e-cigarettes than using conventional cigarettes. The e-cigarette industry also makes it clear they support banning sales of e-cigarettes to those under 18. Instead of adding new regulations that may bankrupt legitimate vaping shops, perhaps the state of Indiana could work with retailers on programs to check identification of potential e-cigarette buyers, just as is currently done with tobacco and alcohol.
Indiana lawmakers, when they devise final regulations for e-cigarettes, need to take public health into account. They should also be careful not force Indiana residents into more dangerous and more risky options in a misguided effort to protect public health. Indiana lawmakers should remember the old maxim to “do no harm” when considering legislation on e-cigarettes.