AUGUSTA – With health impacts from vaping making headlines, there’s another push on the state level to limit their use, but some feel it would really just ban what got them off cigarettes.
People lined up at the Maine State House Wednesday to testify at a public hearing for a bill that would essentially ban vaping, at least temporarily.
The bill would prohibit selling or giving away electronic smoking devices and nicotine liquid – until the FDA officially deems it a safe alternative to traditional smoking.
“Smoking is one of the most toxic products developed for human consumption,” said Sen. Rebecca Millett, (D – South Portland), about the argument that vaping is safer than smoking. “If that’s the benchmark we’re using in terms of safety for human consumption, I think we have a lot to be concerned by.”
Sen. Millett, the bill’s sponsor, said she proposed it after hearing concerns from middle schoolers about their peers vaping.
Most of those gathered Wednesday were against the bill, saying vaping helped them quit cigarettes and this would put them out of business.
“We card and scan the IDs to make sure that there’s no phony IDs involved and we’re very strict on that, so there’s nobody buying in our shops that’s under 21 years,” said Steven Roi, of Vapor City.
Supporters of the bill said vaping giants like Juul are owned by big tobacco, and that there’s still too much unknown about health effects.
Pam Cahill, the executive director of the Maine Nurse Practitioners Association said she supports the bill until experts can, “figure out how come there have been 60 deaths related to vaping … and 2,700 cases of hospitalization.”
Opponents question those numbers and said a ban will only encourage an unregulated black market.
“These products that cause these illnesses were illicit, illegal THC products,” testified Chris Jackson, the co-owner of Portland Smoke and Vape.
If the bill were to become law it would also require the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to come up with regulations before electronic smoking devices could be sold.