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House moves on e-cigs

BY BRENT GRIFFITHS | APRIL 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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Gov. Terry Branstad will have the final decision on whether to ban selling electronic cigarettes to minors after a bill cleared the Statehouse on Tuesday.

The House voted 74-23 to agree with changes the Senate made to House File 2109, after originally passing the measure on Feb. 11. Democrats who control the Senate fought to include both non-nicotine and nicotine e-cigarettes in the bill.

Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, remains opposed to the idea behind regulating non-nicotine devices, but a variety of factors caused him to acquiesce.

“Philosophically, it’s still a challenge for me to accept that we’re essentially regulating behavior,” he said. “In an effort to reach a compromise, which still gets the main goal accomplished, and understanding the practical difficulties for law enforcement, we made this small compromise.”

Baltimore said the whole concept of the bill is to keep nicotine out of the hands of children — something that was unaffected by the deal. Republicans were also able to thwart people who wanted to take the bill “much, much further” and make it something it was not intended to be.

Democrats offered numerous amendments to the bill, which in their view would have strengthened its writing. Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, previously said the bill was one of the worst written bills he had “ever seen.”

Those proposals included allowing counties and cities to pass more stringent laws then the state. Republicans said this would create a wide range of conflicting rules for Iowans at numerous levels.
But Rep. Sally Stutsman, D-Riverside, disagreed.

“Local communities know what’s best for local communities,” said Stutsman, a former Johnson County supervisor.

Stutsman said the best part of local control is that citizens can vote officials out of office if they don’t like what they see.

Stutsman said too much remains unknown about the devices for the bill to be so broad, which is why she voted against it both times it came up in the House.

An owner of one of Iowa’s largest e-cigarette stores was excited with the final product.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic,” said Corey Halfhill, the owner of Central Iowa Electronic Cigarettes. “It turned out pretty much how we wanted it to.”

Halfhill led other retailers’ push for legislative action through “Iowans for Alternatives to Smoking and Tobacco,” which hired a lobbyist to help its efforts.

Beyond Iowa, the federal government proposed action on e-cigarettes and other products last week. The Food and Drug Administration used its powers under existing federal law to claim it could now regulate the increasingly popular nicotine carrying devices.

Unlike in Iowa, the FDA did not include non-nicotine e-cigarettes in its proposal. But did include a ban for minors, requirements for health warnings and further studies in its proposal.

Despite this action Iowa legislators have expressed interest in pursuing this legislation now, because most expect a delay before any parts of the federal proposals are implemented.


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