Zoeller to lawmakers: Pay attention to health risks of e-cigarettes

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has told lawmakers he wants them to put more emphasis on health issues as they consider regulations for e-cigarettes.

“Recent surveys show that e-cigarette use has doubled among teenagers over the past three years while regular cigarette use continues to decline,” Zoeller said in a letter to members of the General Assembly.

Zoeller emphasized to lawmakers that he wants to see Indiana do more when it comes to “the issues of e-cigarette and liquid nicotine” use and particularly he wants to see legislators address the issue this session. Zoeller calls it a “significant loophole in our state’s smoking ban,” which bans cigarette use in most public indoor places, with exceptions for bars, casinos and smoke shops.

The session has passed the halfway point and two bills regulating e-cigarettes or e-liquids are moving. Senate Bill 539 focuses on the regulation of e-liquids and has been referred to the House. House Bill 1432 passed 85-9 and moves to a Senate committee.

More than 7,000 flavors of liquid nicotine are on the market and critics say some of those may be more appealing to a younger crowd because they feature flavors such as gummy bear and cotton candy.

Zoeller wrote a letter to e-cigarette marketing and advertising company Altria Group Inc. emphasizing his concern that e-cigarettes are following in the footsteps of traditional cigarettes and saying that nearly 2 million middle and high school students had tried the product. “There is an opportunity to learn from the past,” he said.

SB 539 and HB 1432 have been assigned to the public policy committees in the respective chambers and are awaiting a hearing.

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