UPDATE: The Senate did not pass HB179 before Sine Die, so it will remain inactive until next year at the earliest.
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Progress is being made by state legislators in Louisiana towards prohibiting the sale of flavored electronic cigarette vapes.
Republican State Representative William Wheat of Ponchatoula introduced House Bill 179, which aims to ban the sale of certain flavored nicotine products used in vaping.
The bill is currently awaiting final approval from the Senate and could be passed on Thursday, June 8.
However, local business owners are expressing their concerns and requesting a slower approach.
Tiger Vape Store in Port Allen houses numerous electronic cigarettes, vapes, and various flavored e-liquids or vape juices.
Ahmad Toom, the store's manager, explains that many customers seek out popular flavored vaping products as an alternative to traditional cigarettes.
"People often try to quit cigarettes and switch to fruity flavors, which are considered less unpleasant than tobacco flavors. That's what attracts them," said Toom.
Lawmakers, on the other hand, believe that electronic cigarettes are enticing teenagers.
According to the FDA, 1 in 10 middle and high school students used vapes last year, with most of them choosing flavored options.
This data has prompted legislators to consider House Bill 179.
In addition, Australia recently implemented a ban on recreational vaping and tightened other e-cigarette regulations to combat the increasing trend of teenage vaping.
Toom, however, believes that existing laws and identification checks are sufficient to regulate vaping.
"I think it would be detrimental to the economy if they proceed with this. We pay taxes on every bottle sold, which contributes to the Louisiana economy. It's like shooting themselves in the foot," Toom expressed.
The enforcement of this measure would likely fall under the responsibility of the ATC (Alcohol and Tobacco Control).
Toom argues that individuals should have the freedom to decide whether or not to vape.
"I understand the concern about underage usage. However, I believe adults in their 30s, 40s, or 60s should have the autonomy to make their own decisions, especially when traditional cigarettes are already available," Toom stated.
If the bill is passed, the ban on flavored vapes would be implemented on October 1, 2023.