JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri lawmaker is hoping the state will regulate vaping the way it regulates smoking.
His proposed legislation received a senate hearing in Jefferson City today.
Several high school and middle school students traveled to the capitol to testify in support of the bill.
They hope the state can do more to keep the products out of the hands of students.
Senator Lincoln Hough testified before the Senate Seniors, Family, and Children Committee about why he filed Senate Bill 829.
Sen. Lincoln Hough, (R) Springfield, said, “My intent with this legislation is to help our youth to not start using tobacco products.”
Hough’s bill would make vaping illegal in the same areas where state law prohibits smoking.
It would change state law to make 21 the age for purchasing vaping products.
Multiple health officials and several students testified in support of the legislation.
Some said they feel peer pressure to vape.
Grace Replogle, Republic Middle School Student, said, “At my school I regularly see students passing vapes in hallways and bathrooms and now several of them have tried to quit but I have not been able to.”
Avery Erwin, Hickory Hills Middle School Student, said, “Users can hide them in their backpacks, pockets and lockers they can breathe the vapor into their sleeves and backpacks and even wait for the teacher to leave the room for just a few seconds.”
Hough said his legislation would also create a state registration allowing regulators to know which businesses are selling vaping products.
And by taxing the products just like tobacco merchandise, money would be used for local and state cessation programs and enforcement to ensure businesses are not selling to minors.
“there’s actual dollars behind the enforcement that currently we don’t have a lot of right now in the state,” said Hough.
A representative from the Vapor Technology Association testified against the bill.
He said the industry supports regulation, but opposes treating vaping products the same as tobacco and says vaping helps adults to quit smoking.
Kino Becton, Vaping Technology Association, said, “I lost three family members to smoking related diseases and these are products that I think if they had been on the market years before, those families would probably still be here today.”
Federal law recently changed to raise the age to buy vaping products to 21.
Hough’s bill would make it a state crime to sell to anyone under the age of 21.