Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Health

Florida House votes to regulate e-cigarette sales

TALLAHASSEE — A bill that would make electronic cigarettes off limits to young people won unanimous support on Wednesday in the Florida House.

Anti-smoking groups had been working against the proposal, largely because of a provision that would have prevented local governments from creating their own rules on e-cigarettes and tobacco products.

But on Tuesday, Rep. Bill Hager, R-Delray Beach, assembled a bipartisan coalition that stripped the controversial language from the bill.

Rep. Frank Artiles, the bill sponsor, insisted that the provision would have made the bill stronger. He supports a statewide policy on e-cigarette sales.

Still, the Miami Republican said he was pleased to see the bill advance.

"At the end of the day, the state of Florida has acted before the federal government in protecting our children from contaminating their lungs with vaporizing devices and e-cigarettes," he said.

The Senate has already passed a proposal prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors (SB 224). But because the House approved additional rules on how e-cigarettes can be displayed in stores, the upper chamber must weigh in again.

Sen. Lisbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, who championed the bill in the Senate, said she remained a "strong proponent" of her version of the bill. Late Wednesday, she filed an amendment that would bring the House version closer to the Senate's.

Battery-operated e-cigarettes turn liquid nicotine into an odorless vapor. They do not contain tobacco. But critics say electronic cigarettes can be just as dangerous as traditional cigarettes, depending on what chemicals are in the nicotine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to propose rules for e-cigarettes as early as this month.

Artiles said he became interested in the issue after seeing a preteen smoke an electronic cigarette at a Miami-Dade water park. He later asked a middle-school teacher to find out how many of her students had tried "vaping," the slang term for smoking an e-cigarette. About 60 percent said they had.

There was no opposition to the concept at the heart of HB 169: a ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, those under the age of 18.

But the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and the American Cancer Society disliked three lines that would have prohibited cities and counties from passing stricter ordinances in the future.

On Tuesday, Artiles agreed to let local governments pass ordinances about nicotine products — but not electronic cigarettes.

"Uniformity is something we need in the state of Florida," Artiles said, adding that gas station and convenience store owners would be confused by a patchwork of local ordinances governing e-cigarette sales.

Artiles also agreed to let existing municipal ordinances about e-cigarettes remain on the books.

But that wasn't enough for Hager, who said local governments needed the flexibility to change their laws as new products and chemicals emerge. House Democrats and nearly 30 Republicans sided with him.

"More than anything, we wanted to make sure local communities have the right to enact stronger policies if they choose to," said Michael Holtz, a spokesman for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. "That was our bottom line."

The House approved the amended proposal Wednesday.

Lawmakers said they predicted e-cigarettes would become a perennial issue.

"This is just the start of what we have to do as this new technology is unfolding," said Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee.

Contact Kathleen McGrory at [email protected]

Comments
How is Florida’s health? Not so great, report says

How is Florida’s health? Not so great, report says

Florida slightly improved its national standing this year, rising from 36th to 32nd overall in the annual America’s Health Rankings report. But the takeaway for the nation’s third-largest state is that it has a long way to go in many important health...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

The floor-to-ceiling glass windows are heavily tinted and the inside is hidden behind rows of curtains. Security cameras monitor every corner, and only patients with an appointment and valid identification can pass through the intentionally cramped e...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Video: Jimmy Kimmel holds his baby son, post-heart surgery, in emotional health-care monologue

Video: Jimmy Kimmel holds his baby son, post-heart surgery, in emotional health-care monologue

Jimmy Kimmel was absent from his ABC late-night show last week while his 8-month-old son, Billy, recovered from his second heart surgery. Ever since Billy was born with a heart defect and required immediate surgery, Kimmel has become an outspoken adv...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Record numbers are signing up for Obamacare in Florida as enrollment period draws to a close

Record numbers are signing up for Obamacare in Florida as enrollment period draws to a close

With just four days left to enroll for health insurance on the federal exchange, advocates for the Affordable Care Act say Florida is headed for a record-breaking year. In week five of the six-week open enrollment period, about 823,180 people signed ...
Published: 12/12/17
A boy shares the pain of being bullied - inspiring thousands to show him love (w/video)

A boy shares the pain of being bullied - inspiring thousands to show him love (w/video)

While fighting back tears, young Keaton Jones couldn’t stop asking one question: Why?"Just out of curiosity, why do they bully? What’s the point of it?" he asks his mother while in the passenger seat of a parked car. "Why do you find joy in taking in...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Legalization of marijuana for adults poses problems for people dealing with teens

Legalization of marijuana for adults poses problems for people dealing with teens

WESTMINSTER, Calif. — After Yarly Raygoza attended the drug prevention program at the Boys & Girls Club here last year, she used what she learned to talk a few friends out of using marijuana.The 14-year-old took the class again this year but worries ...
Published: 12/10/17
Millions gained coverage since Obamacare, but many are worse off as premiums soar

Millions gained coverage since Obamacare, but many are worse off as premiums soar

As open enrollment for Affordable Care Act coverage nears the deadline of Dec. 15, and Florida once again leads all states using the federal exchange at healthcare.gov, Heidi and Richard Reiter sit at the kitchen table at their Davie home and struggl...
Published: 12/10/17
A gift of hands: After loss, a man finds hope from healing ones (w/video)

A gift of hands: After loss, a man finds hope from healing ones (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — Francisco Piedra fixed his eyes on the man sitting beside him. His name was Richard Brown, and in his hands he held Piedra’s new ones.The prosthetics were black and plastic. Each one took about 20 hours to build from a 3D printer. Pi...
Published: 12/08/17
The solar eclipse burned a crescent wound on a woman’s retina. She wasn’t wearing proper glasses.

The solar eclipse burned a crescent wound on a woman’s retina. She wasn’t wearing proper glasses.

Like so many others, 26-year-old Nia Payne wanted to view of August’s historic solar eclipse but didn’t have a pair of protective glasses. She walked outside on Staten Island and glanced at the sun - 70 percent was covered - for about six seconds bef...
Published: 12/08/17
At St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, death of a colleague inspires ‘hats with heart’

At St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, death of a colleague inspires ‘hats with heart’

TAMPA — Brittany Weatherby didn’t know how to crochet when she started her job as a registered nurse at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital, and she never dreamed of learning how.Maybe her grandma used to, she tried to remember, but Weatherby never really ...
Published: 12/08/17