The Indiana Senate on Tuesday nearly unanimously passed a bill that would overhaul the state’s regulation of the vaping and e-liquid industry.
Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, said the bill pares controversial regulations put in place during the previous two sessions of the Indiana General Assembly, which he said “went too far and put some small manufacturers out of business.”
Current law—parts of which have been ruled unconstitutional by the Indiana Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals—essentially allows a monopoly in the state by requiring that manufacturers of the “juice” used in e-cigarettes have contracts with a private security firm. The state made the qualifications for security firms so strict that only one company in Lafayette met all the rules. And that company only approved six firms to produce the juice.
Head’s bill, which passed the Senate 49-1, requires manufacturers to comply with federal laws and eliminates the rule that manufacturers have to work with a private security firm.
“To be clear, this bill wouldn’t jeopardize consumer safety,” Head said. “It would, however, ensure manufacturers are complying with the federal standards while removing unnecessary regulatory measures currently in place. Issuing permits is a function of state government, and the state ought to do it, rather than having a single private company dole out permits.
The passage of the bill was cheered by the Indiana Smoke Free Alliance, members of which were vocally opposed to the monopoly situation.
“We appreciate the efforts of Sen. Randy Head and all of the Senate sponsors in passing a reasonable bill that balances consumer protection with common sense regulations,” according to a statement from the Alliance. “We look forward to working with members of the Indiana House of Representatives in coming weeks."
Mulhaupt’s, the Lafayette company that was granted the monopoly, released a statement saying that it "looks forward to the continued debate on how to best protect Indiana consumers.”
"We are hopeful state lawmakers will always put the safety of Hoosiers first when considering any changes to Indiana’s e-liquid laws,” according to a statement from President Doug Mulhaupt.
Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, spoke in support of Head's bill, saying it introduces “real competition” back into Indiana.
The lone opposing vote on the bill came from Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, who said he didn’t think the federal government should be regulating the state’s laws.
He also suggested that “somebody [could] put heroin in a liquid in one of these vials and send it to Indiana.”
Head responded, “Those things are already illegal and they will still be illegal."
The bill now heads to the House to be considered. It is unclear if the bill will be substantially altered in the other chamber.