TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Senate on Monday passed a plan that would regulate the sale of electronic cigarettes and raise the state’s legal age to use tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21.
The 29-9 vote, which sends the bill to the House, came despite opposition from some major health groups. That opposition stems, at least in part, from the bill seeking to prevent local regulations on such things as the marketing and sale of tobacco and vaping products.
The bill, sponsored by Senate Regulated Industries Chairman Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, would raise the state’s legal age to smoke and vape to 21, a threshold already established in federal law. It also would create a state regulatory framework for the sale of electronic cigarettes.
The bill drew little discussion Monday on the Senate floor. But in an email last week, the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics urged opposition to the Senate bill and the House version (HB 987), saying the measures would “make it easier for children to get tobacco and vaping products by removing the ability for communities to implement local proven and effective regulations such as licensing tobacco retailers, restricting tobacco product placement in retail stores, and zoning requirements for the location of tobacco businesses relative to schools and youth-oriented facilities.”
Backers of the proposals, however, have said they would help with enforcement of tobacco and vaping laws and that preemption of local regulations is needed because retailers could have multiple stores in different areas, which would make it hard to follow varying regulations and do business.