E-cig bill gains traction in House

By Heather Leigh, Mobile journalist, hleigh@wjxt.com
Chris Robbins, Evening newscast producer, crobbins@wjxt.com
Published On: Apr 06 2014 11:10:26 PM EDT
e cig
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

The push to make it illegal to sell electronic cigarettes to minors is gaining traction in the Florida House.

House bill 169 has passed through subcommittees and its next stop is the House floor. But an amendment to the bill has sparked controversy among anti-tobacco groups, including the American Cancer Society.

Right now, a city or county can make its own laws or rules when it comes to the sale of e-cigarettes.     

Orange Park in Clay County recently made its own rules but the amendment essentially would give all the regulatory power to the state.

Chad Carter says e-Cigarettes saved his life.

"I was a cigarette smoker for 22 years and I haven't touched a cigarette in over three years. It works," Carter said.

That's why Carter said he now sells e-cigarettes all over northeast Florida.

"We're not in the business to get people addicted to a substance, we're here to help people quit smoking," Carter said.

So, when it comes to House bill 169, Carter said he has no problem with making it illegal to sell the electronic cigarettes to kids under the age of 18, a rule he already follows. Rep. Ronald Renuart of St. Johns County is one of the sponsors of the bill. He said that's the main goal.

"If we don't put a law in place now, there would be another year that minors in the state of Florida can continue to purchase and possess these products and for me, that's the most important part," Renuart said.

But as it made its way through subcommittees the bill picked up an amendment filed by the other sponsor of the bill, causing controversy among groups like the American Cancer Society.

Renuart said the amendment would give regulation power to the state and take it away from cities and counties.

In Orange Park, smoking e-cigarettes is prohibited inside an establishment that already prohibits smoking, and you can sell the e-cigarettes to minors.

"Creating that uniformity or certainty when you cross city or county borders, where the retailer knows the law on how these can be sold, that's a good thing to have," Renuart said.

Carter says it doesn't matter who regulates the sale to minors, he's just worried there may be more regulations to come.

"Once we start this thing, where is the stopping point?" He said. "How many amendments can there be?"

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