Governor Jay Nixon has called together health professionals to speak in support of his veto of electronic cigarette legislation passed in the spring (SB 841).
The bill he vetoed would ban the sale in Missouri of electronic cigarettes to people younger than 18, but would also exempt those devices from state tobacco taxes and regulations.
Nixon argues that federal regulations are in development that would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. He says that means the only lasting impact of the bill would be that those devices would not be regulated like tobacco products, which is what he believes was the goal of the tobacco companies that own the e-cigarette makers.
“We shouldn’t in this one fell swoop, under the guise of saying we’re protecting kids at the very time that the FDA is coming in to do that anyway, provide this blanket shield to any sort of proper regulation of these type of products,” says Nixon.
Nixon’s veto is one that lawmakers could attempt to override when they return to Jefferson City for the veto session next week. The House handler of that bill, Representative Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, says he expects there will be such an attempt.
“We’ll bring it up and I would, barring something happening between now and next week, would expect it to be overridden,” says Rowden.
Rowden argues now, as he did during debate on the bill in the session, that e-cigarettes contain no tobacco and therefore shouldn’t be regulated as tobacco products.
He says the Governor’s position is not “intellectually strong.”
“It’s really just laced in politics and rhetoric,” says Rowden. “He’s smarter than that. You’ve been in statewide office for 24 years, you should be able to do the research to know what the makeup of an e-cigarette is and either they haven’t done that research, or they’ve done it and they don’t care to operate in fact.”
Doctor Kevin Everett with the University of Missouri School of Medicine says e-cigarettes contain nicotine, and so they should be regulated like tobacco products.
“The companies that I’ve witnessed, no company has chosen to become a [smoking] cessation device and go through the process that’s required for that,” says Everett. “We don’t know if people can quit using these and stay quit. They remain addicted to nicotine which puts them at risk to go back to smoking tobacco.”
Rowden says as more is learned about e-cigarettes and their impact, new regulations can be created specific to those but that would not treat them as tobacco products.
“Probably we’ll end up creating a new sort of section [of law], a new definition for what these are. I think at some point they’ll probably take on a big enough share of the market that they’ll have to be treated like that.”