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Kentucky House passes bill aiming to curb sale of vaping products to teens

The Kentucky House has passed legislation targeting the illegal sale of electronic cigarettes to minors and unauthorized vaping products, officials say.

Legislation aimed at cracking down on the illegal sale of electronic cigarettes to young people and keeping unauthorized vaping products out of stores won passage in the Kentucky House on Monday.

Republican state Rep. Rebecca Raymer, the bill's lead sponsor, said it's a response to the state's "vaping epidemic" and, in particular, complaints about how rampant vaping has become in schools.

"As I dove into this subject, I learned that most of what is confiscated is flavored and disposable vapes. Looking further, I found out that many of these vapes are not even authorized for sale," Raymer said in a statement after the bill's passage.

OVER 2.5M AMERICAN TEENS VAPED IN 2022, OFFICIALS SAY

The measure cleared the House on a 62-26 vote and heads to the Senate next. Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers.

The bill would require Kentucky businesses to acknowledge whether they're involved in the retail sale of tobacco products when filing business paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office. That list would be sent to the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which regulates tobacco and vape sales.

The minimum legal age to buy smoking products is 21 in Kentucky. For a first citation under the bill, retailers would face a fine of $100 to $500. The penalty would grow to $1,000 for a second offense and $5,000 for third and subsequent offenses. The bill also includes fines for wholesalers and manufacturers found to be involved in the distribution of unauthorized tobacco products.

US SCHOOLS INVEST MILLIONS IN SURVEILLANCE TECHNOLOGY TO COMBAT TEEN VAPING EPIDEMIC

The number of different electronic cigarette devices sold in the U.S. has skyrocketed since 2020, driven almost entirely by a wave of unauthorized disposable vapes from China, according to tightly controlled sales data obtained by The Associated Press. Federal officials are seizing more shipments of unauthorized e-cigarettes at U.S. ports, but new flavored products continue pouring into the country from China, according to government and industry data reviewed by the AP.

The numbers demonstrate the Food and Drug Administration’s struggles to control the tumultuous vaping market. Most of the disposable e-cigarettes, which are thrown away after they’re used up, come in sweet and fruity flavors that have made them the favorite tobacco product among teenagers.

The Kentucky legislation — House Bill 11 — is meant to keep e-cigarettes, vapes and other tobacco products not authorized by the FDA out of stores in the Bluegrass State.

"The measure balances a Kentucky consumer's access to FDA-authorized products and our obligation to keep vapes and other e-cigs with dangerous ingredients off our shelves and away from our children," Raymer said in the statement Monday.

VAPES DISGUISED AS SCHOOL SUPPLIES WORRY AUTHORITIES AND PROMPT WARNINGS AS ITEMS POUR INTO US FROM CHINA

During the House debate, the proposal drew sharp criticism from Republican state Rep. Savannah Maddox, who said it would ban products used by Kentucky adults. She predicted a public backlash against the bill.

"This is being proposed as something that is designed to reduce harm in minor children, when in reality it will do no such thing," she said. "What it will do is harm Kentucky’s businesses."

She condemned it as an example of government overreach.

"Where does it end? I don’t believe it’s the appropriate role of government for us to take on this ‘nanny state façade’ and to ban products of this nature," Maddox said.

Raymer replied that the bill is meant to follow the FDA's regulatory authority.

"I am not a big government type of person," Raymer said. "But the fact of the matter is we are not the regulatory authority over these products. The FDA is. That was granted through our duly elected officials through Congress."

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