The state House has given initial approval to restricting the sales of electronic cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18. The bill (HB 1690) would add alternative nicotine products to the list of those restricted for those under 18. It also defines those products and prevents them from being taxed or regulated as tobacco products.

Representative Caleb Rowden (courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Caleb Rowden (courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The sponsor, Representative Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) says the language was written with the goal of being acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats.

“As the industry evolves and as we begin to know more if we get to the point where we say, ‘Okay, we need to tax these at the same rate, at the same level that we’re taxing tobacco products, then that’s something that we could very well do in future years,” says Rowden, “but for simplicity and for making sure that we could get this across the finish line and make sure that at the end of the day that folks 18 and under do not have access to these products, to make sure that was something we could get done, that’s part of the reason we decided to go this route.”

Representative Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur) says the legislation shuts the door to regulation.

“Why we would want to start now by saying we will have no regulations around this as it relates to tobacco products makes no sense to me,” says Schupp. If our goal here today is truly to stop young people from accessing these E-cigarettes as we learn more about what their effects will be, we can do that without this [language] in the bill.”

With another favorable vote the legislation would go to the Senate.