Legislation in Olympia would place stringent restrictions on the sale of vaping products in Washington state. (File photo illustration)

Legislation in Olympia would place stringent restrictions on the sale of vaping products in Washington state. (File photo illustration)

Lawmakers aim to put sweeping regulations on vaping industry

Vape industry stakeholders, however, call it a win for Big Tobacco

OLYMPIA — Legislation requested by Gov. Jay Inslee’s office and supported by Democratic senators aims to ban flavored nicotine vaping products and impose sweeping regulations on the vaping industry.

If passed, Senate Bill 6254 would limit the nicotine concentration of vape products, ban certain flavoring chemicals and require vape manufacturers, distributors and retailers to obtain licenses from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. The bill would also give the board authority to inspect licensed facilities to ensure compliance.

The legislation is proposed in response to rising public health concerns over the widespread use of vape products as well as the growing number of teen users.

“While our nation has made a lot of progress in the last several decades in reducing teen smoking, what we have seen is an explosion in teen vaping,” said Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, one of the bill’s sponsors.

Kuderer cited federal Food and Drug Administration data when she spoke to the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee on Jan. 22, which estimates an increase of more than 3 million teen vape users from 2017 to 2019.

“The evidence is clear: it is flavored vaping products that are the hook used to reel these young people in,” Kuderer said.

Another sponsor of the bill, Sen. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, testified in support of the proposed law. Pollet said a new generation of people are forming nicotine addictions from the vape products in a similar way to how cigarettes affected past generations.

People within the vape industry also testified to the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee. Margo Ross, the owner of a vapor product store in Moses Lake, claimed that minors were obtaining flavored vape products illegally and that banning these flavors would turn away customers who were using vapor products as a substitute for smoking cigarettes.

Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, expressed concerns that the bill did not explicitly ban the online sale of flavored vapor products, claiming that e-commerce provides a method for minors to obtain these products.

Shaun D’Sylva, the owner of multiple vape stores and a nicotine e-liquid manufacturing company, said the regulations imposed by the legislation would effectively kill the vape and e-cigarette industry in the state.

“You’ve given the biggest gift you possibly could to Big Tobacco,” D’Sylva said.

The bill moves next to an executive session in the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee, which is scheduled for a hearing Jan. 27.

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