Senate committee moves forward with vaping ban

The Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee
listening to speakers voice their opinions on e-cigarettes/vapes.
Photo submission by Nya Ramirez.

In the 2018 November election, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment that will ban the use of indoor vaping, or electronic cigarettes in enclosed indoor workplaces. On Tuesday morning, the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee took up a proposal that will carry out this amendment involving the use of e-cigarettes.

The biggest issue concerning the proposal is the confusion when differentiating between e-cigarettes and tobacco products. Matt Jordan, government relations representative for the American Cancer Society, said that because e-cigarettes do not come with specific ingredients, it is difficult to know what users are inhaling. 

Jordan also addressed the notion that vapes are not currently classified as tobacco products, which means they are not regulated as tobacco products.

Some argue that vapes and tobacco products fall under the same category and should be treated as such. Because there are several different types of e-cigarettes being sold, some may include tobacco while others include nicotine. The confusion arises over whether or not vapes are as harmful as cigarettes.

“We should include electronic smoking devices in the definition of second-hand smoke, and smoking — the definition of both smoking, and second-hand smoke should be updated to include all tobacco products, and all vaping products— this bill will clarify the use of these products as prohibited everywhere,” said Mark Landreth, a spokesman for the American Heart Association.

Jordan said, “This isn’t about harmless versus harmful, this is about every Floridian having the right to breathe clean air— these should be included in the Clean Indoor Air Act and that way we would like our state laws to match the federal laws.”

Although some believe e-cigarettes are equivalent to tobacco products, others believe that vaping can be used to help cigarette smokers to eventually quit. “There are people that use vaping to get off of nicotine, so they may start to use the juice that has nicotine in it — but then a lot of people use it and get to the point where they eliminate it all together,” Senator Randolph Bracy, a Democrat from Orlando, said.

Following Jordan’s concern on the use of e-cigarettes, Joshua Unger, a Sarasota business owner, shared his personal experiences with vaping. “Our business is helping people quit smoking, or helping people get off cigarettes. I personally have witnessed hundreds of people and hundreds of stores in the state transition from smoking to vaping, and then to not vaping,” Unger said.

Most speakers said they favored the proposed bill (SPB 7012), and have appreciated the benefits of vapes. The Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee voted to advance the proposal to the legislative session that begins March 5.