A scaled-back vaping bill clears the Florida Legislature

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Florida lawmakers this week approved a watered-down bill targeting vape products geared toward children, setting up a process for Attorney General Ashley Moody to go after illegal electronic cigarette manufacturers and sellers.

The legislation underwent a major overhaul before it was unanimously passed Tuesday by the Senate and overwhelmingly approved Thursday by the House. The bill (HB 1007), now ready to go to Gov. Ron DeSantis, targets single-use electronic cigarettes. Senate sponsor Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, said the proposal is narrowly focused on single-use devices, a significant change from a plan floated earlier. “It’s still a really good bill,” Perry said in an interview Friday. “The attorney general, kind of through things she has to prove, can determine that they’re marketing towards children, then she can regulate those (products) and take those off the market. That’s really where the problem has been, anyway. We’re not concerned with adults that vape. That’s their decision.”

Lawmakers earlier considered a proposal that would have severely restricted products that could be sold. According to legislative analyses of the earlier plan, about two dozen products sold by Juul Labs and other businesses affiliated with tobacco companies would have been deemed legal. The original measure sparked an outcry from vape sellers and manufacturers, who maintained that the plan would have shuttered mom-and-pop businesses throughout the state. The changes adopted this week would allow Moody’s office to set up a registry of products deemed off-limits, after an administrative process. “We are grateful that the Legislature listened to the concerns of all of us who traveled to Tallahassee to share our views throughout the committee process,” Nick Orlando, president of the Florida Smoke-Free Association, said in a statement Friday. Perry said after Juul and other companies stopped producing single-use electronic cigarettes Chinese companies made them. Juul Labs over the past few years has agreed to pay nearly $3 billion to settle lawsuits with states for allegedly luring children to buy addictive nicotine products. Moody’s office in October filed a lawsuit against the company alleging it improperly marketed to children and offered misleading information about the nicotine content in its products. The case is pending at the Hillsborough County Circuit Court.

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