SALT LAKE CITY — A local lawmaker’s bill to increase the authority of local health departments regarding preventing the sale of e-cigarettes and other nicotine products to minors has been defeated.
The House voted 29-44 Monday night to defeat an amended version of HB 372, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, that addressed authority by local health departments to enforce e-cigarette limits for users age 19 and younger.
The bill also called for moving candy-like products with nicotine behind the counter with other tobacco products and limiting entrance to smoke shops to those age 19 and older.
The bill originally called for a tax on e-cigarettes, but that provision was dropped from the bill. Despite the modification, some lawmakers expressed concerns about taxing nicotine products at the same 86 percent level used for cigarettes.
“Each man’s tax impoverishes me, whether it starts with alcohol or something else,” Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, said of the bill.
Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, said he doesn’t believe it is possible for legislation to keep nicotine products out of the hands of kids.
Ray claims current law makes it difficult for local health departments to enforce limits on e-cigarette use among minors. He noted a raid on a Weber County high school seized 200 e-cigarettes last week.
“It’s not just a few kids, it’s a lot of kids,” he said of the growing problem.