Hotly debated bill to regulate e-cigarette liquid advances

A sea of “I Vape” and “I Vote” signs flooded the halls Thursday on the first floor of the Indiana Statehouse, just outside room where the Commerce and Technology Committee was meeting Tuesday.

The large group came to protest Senate Bill 539, authored by Sen. Carlin Yoder, R- Middlebury, which would establish regulations on e-liquid – the fluid used in electronic cigarettes.

Under the bill, a manufacturer of e-liquids must obtain a permit issued by the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. The bill also bans the sale of e-liquids to a minor, requires child-proof caps, and also requires ingredients to be listed on the bottle.

Lawmakers said the bill is needed to regulate the conditions e-liquids are manufactured under and to control access to minors. Critics said the bill will increase manufacturers’ costs for permits and security to the point that it could drive them out of business.

Yoder acknowledged some of the concerns but said that he is committed to continue working on this bill and that it’s not in its final form. Still, it passed the committee 6-4.

“This is not a bill I’m intending to cause any undue damage to the vape industry,” Yoder said. “This bill is just simply a way to bring some form of regulation to it in a way that keeps individuals safe.”

Yoder also said he does not favor over-regulating the industry.

Some of the people who opposed the bill said the bill would create too many regulations.

Evan McMahon, owner of Liberation Vapo, said this bill will kill the industry.

As he came to the podium, he brought a large box filled with 1,673 individual letters signed by Hoosiers that he had collected in the last 48 hours. According to McMahon, all these letters urged the committee to kill the bill.

The opponents said that some regulations of e-liquid are necessary and many of the shop owners testified that they already meet some of the requirements. Their biggest concern was that many of their manufacturers were from out of state and the bill would require retailers to only purchase from manufacturers that had an Indiana permit. A permit is not necessary in any other state.

The Indiana permit would cost $5,000 and critics said some out-of-state manufacturers might not be willing to get one, making it tougher for shops to get the products they need.

As of now, there are no regulations on e-liquid. While Yoder’s bill passed the committee, he said he is still looking to work with some of the opponents to create regulations that will still allow the vape shops to operate.

E-cigarettes “have been a good cessation smoking tool and I think it is important,” Yoder said.

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