JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri lawmaker is hoping the state will regulate vaping the way it regulates smoking with a proposed legislation.
Several high school and middle school students traveled to the capitol to testify in support of the bill. They hope the state can do more to keep the products out of the hands of students.
Senator Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield) testified before the Senate seniors family and children committee about why he filed Senate Bill 829.
“My intent with this legislation is to help our youth to not start using tobacco products,” Hough said.
Hough’s bill would make vaping illegal in the same areas where state law prohibits smoking. It would change state law to make 21 the age for purchasing vaping products.
Multiple health officials and several students testified in support of the legislation. Some said they feel peer pressure to vape.
“At my school I regularly see students passing vapes in hallways and bathrooms, and now several of them have tried to quit but they have not been able to,” said Grace Replogle, a middle school student.
Hough said his legislation would also create a state registration allowing regulators to know which businesses are selling vaping products. By taxing the products, just like tobacco merchandise, money would be used for local and state cessation programs and enforcement to ensure businesses are not selling to minors.
“There are actual dollars behind the enforcement that currently we don’t have a lot of right now in the state,” Hough said.
A representative from the Vapor Technology Association testified against the bill. He said the industry supports regulation but opposes treating vaping products the same as tobacco and says vaping helps adults to quit smoking.
“I lost three family members to smoking-related diseases and these are products that I think if they had been on the market years before, those families would probably still be here today,” the representative said.
Federal law recently changed to raise the age to buy vaping products to 21. Hough’s bill would make it a state crime to sell to anyone under the age of 21.