The state legislature’s rush to pass an e-cigarette bill should give Iowa voters pause. Why? Well, because the bill isn’t what it seems. The way the bill is written, it doesn’t just prohibit minors from buying e-cigarettes — something everyone agrees is a good idea — but does so in a way that creates numerous loopholes and exemptions in our state’s tobacco laws, specifically for e-cigarettes.
This legislation would allow these still unproven, untested and unregulated devices to dodge state tobacco taxes. It would enable retailers to distribute free e-cigarette “samples” in places where samples of cigarettes and other tobacco products are prohibited. It would exempt e-cigarette sellers from having to obtain appropriate permits to sell their products, nor would they have to track how many of these devices they’re selling and to whom.
These may all sound like minor or mundane details but these are all critical policies in combating youth and adult tobacco use. Price, regulation and responsible retailing are needed to make sure we don’t trade one tobacco problem for another.
Science may one day prove e-cigarettes safe or it may not, but the fact is until then Iowa shouldn’t race to pass a law that may do more harm than good. After all, there was a time when “light” cigarettes were thought to be better for your health, too. Good thing we didn’t jump in and allow those to be handed out as samples and sold tax free.
Iowans need to speak up now and tell their lawmakers to reject this potentially harmful legislation.