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Iowa vaping bill draws opponents from retailers, health care groups

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(The Center Square) – An Iowa bill that would add requirements to manufacturers of vaping and e-cigarette products has two surprising allies standing together in opposition: vape shops and health care organizations.

House Bill 682 and its companion legislation, Senate File 2402, would require vaping manufacturers who sell products in the state to include them on a new registry. The registration fee is $100 per product. Retailers could only sell products listed on the registry.

David Scott of Altria, a manufacturer of tobacco and related products, said the bill does not prohibit the sale of any legal product. What the bill does is prevent illegal products from overseas.

“China have over 50% of the (products) that are illegal,” Scott told a House Ways and Means subcommittee this week. “Three out of the five youth brands are illicit but they are still being brought in.”

The Food and Drug Administration created a similar registry on the federal level. In January, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FDA’s decisions were made arbitrarily and capriciously and that the agency should reconsider its guidelines. Scott said the FDA admits it doesn’t have the resources to monitor the products.

“If you are not on the directory, the FDA has no idea what the ingredients are in your vape,” Scott said. “They have no control of your marketing and we have no idea of the manufacturing process.

Iowa is one of 23 states considering bills that would require a vaping product registry, according to Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, an organization opposing the bills.

Sarah Linden, owner of Generation V in Council Bluffs and Davenport, told the subcommittee that the bill would put a strain on her business.

“It would eliminate 99% of the vapor products on the market,” Linden said. Retailers said vape users will find other ways to get their product if it is unavailable in their stores.

Retailers have an unlikely ally in health care organizations. The American Cancer Society is listed as “against the bill” in lobbyist declarations. The American Heart Association is undecided. CAFE Iowa Citizens Action Network, an organization that advocates for tobacco control policies to reduce its use, is also against the bill.

“At the end of the day, this bill will do nothing to reduce youth consumption, and/or adults likely,” said Threase Harms in her testimony. “I think as the vape shop owner said that folks will continue to get this whether they bring it in online through their mailbox and have it delivered at their door or they go across state lines.”

A better prevention measure would be advertising regulations, placing a tax on the products and a permit fee for retailers, according to Harm.

The bills were approved by subcommittees and will be heard by the Ways and Means committees in their respective chambers.

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