By Alec Gray
A House committee could vote Wednesday on a bill to put regulations on the manufacturers and retailers of e-liquids, which are used in electronic cigarettes.
Several retailers attended a Tuesday meeting of the Public Policy Committee to oppose the bill and said that regulations meant for the “bad guys” shouldn’t be forced onto retailers who do things the right way.
But its author, Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, said the bill is meant to protect consumers from potentially harmful e-liquids, to regulate the manufacturing, sale, possession, and use of e-liquids, and to prohibit the use of them by minors.
It also requires e-liquid bottles to have labels that list all ingredients as well as a batch code – and limits the ingredients manufacturers can use. The bill requires retailers to have a retail tobacco certificate – a $5,000 expense the first year with a $1,000 renewal every five years.
Mahan said the legislation is necessary because there are currently no Federal Drug Administration regulations on vapor products.
“With the lack of regulations, it is not uncommon for e-liquids to be sold to those who are under the age of 18 at a smoke shop,” Mahan said.
“With less oversight comes reckless manufacturing and retail behavior,” Mahan said.
But retailers who spoke to the committee said they already choose not to sell to minors and use childproof caps on products and no-tamper seals.
Evan McMahon, who owns Liberation Vape in Indianapolis, said no industry representatives were consulted in the creation of the bill.
“We want to work with the legislature to create a set of standards, a way to protect the consumer from the bad players, but not at the expense of the good players that are operating,” McMahon said.
He said that most retailers are not opposed to regulations that protect the public. But McMahon said he is against the parts of the bill that add significant expenses that risk putting them out of business.
Supporters, however, called the issue a public health concern and said it needs to be regulated to avoid letting e-liquids become a source through which unscrupulous dealers can deliver drugs.
“This approach will keep us ahead of the game that we continue to find ourselves in with issues like spice and other synthetic drugs,” Mahan said. “By proactively saying what can be in e-liquids, we do not have to worry about being behind the drug dealing chemist coming up with the next bath salt that doesn’t meet our definition or the courts throwing out our next attempt to define it.”
McMahon said e-liquid stores will not be able to succeed if the bill is unchanged.
“Make no mistake, if these bills were to pass as amended today, as they stand today, with the restrictions that they have today, the shops in Indiana would be forced to close,” he said.
A similar bill authored by Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, just passed the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy committee 11-0.
Alec Gray is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.