Wednesday, February 19, 2014

State House panel OKs bill to regulate e-cigarettes in Ky.

Electronic cigarettes would be regulated as tobacco products in Kentucky under a bill that the House Licensing and Occupations Committee approved Wednesday.

HouseBill 309, sponsored by Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, would include the relatively new product among cigarettes, cigars, and other types of tobacco products that are regulated by the state. It would also make e-cigarettes off limits to anyone under age 18.

E-cigarettes have a battery, electric circuit or other component that allows them to produce vaporized nicotine. The nicotine is derived from tobacco grown in India and China, said National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids regional director Amy Barkley, who testified on the bill with Jenkins.

Rep. Brad Montell, R-Shelbyville, questioned whether e-cigarettes would be taxed as tobacco products if redefined under HB 309. Jenkins said that would be up to the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, which is now working on a state budget for the next two years. Montell and Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, voted against the bill.

Concerns about how broadly the legislation could be interpreted were expressed by Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, who asked Jenkins, “Why don’t we just have a bill that says, e-cigarettes: You can’t buy them if you’re 18.”

Jenkins replied, “I guess because the industry is constantly changing, and if we just say e-cigarettes next year there’ll be a another product very similar but that’s not exactly an e-cigarette.”

HB 309 now goes to the Rules Committee, which could send it to the full House or to another committee.

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