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Problematic Florida E-Cigarette Bill Defeated

Posted on 1/6/2016 by Logan McEwen

On January 6, 2016, HB 1143 was introduced in the Florida House of Representatives. The bill sought to include the use of a nicotine dispensing device within the definition of “smoking” under the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, and proposed to take effect July 1, 2016.

On January 6, 2016, HB 1143 was introduced in the Florida House of Representatives. The bill sought to include the use of a nicotine dispensing device within the definition of “smoking” under the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, and proposed to take effect July 1, 2016.

 

The Florida Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking in an enclosed indoor workplace but exempts private residences, retail tobacco shops, designated smoking guest rooms, stand-alone bars, tobacco research programs, and customs smoking rooms. From a larger point of view, the intentions of HB 1143 were to merely extend those prohibitions to e-cigarette use but the bill’s language caused for problematic outcomes.

 

The bill raised two major concerns in how it would apply to e-cigarettes. First, e-cigarettes were to be subject to the same restrictions as tobacco smoking but did not have any of the same exemptions. For example, retail tobacco shops are exempted from the Clean Air prohibitions but HB 1143 did not include any exemptions for retail e-cigarette shops.

 

This would have made it illegal to use an e-cigarette in a retail e-cigarette shop, but would allow the use of an e-cigarette in a retail tobacco shop. This was clearly inequitable treatment between the two products.

 

The second major concern was the lack of specificity in the definitions used. The bill prohibited “smoking,” defined as possessing a lighted tobacco product or merely a nicotine dispensing device. This meant the act of possessing an e-cigarette in an enclosed workspace, whether or not it was being used, was a violation of the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act. While the tobacco product had to be ignited, the e-cigarette only needed to be in one’s possession for a violation to occur.

 

Thankfully, common sense won the day and HB 1143 died in the Business and Professions Subcommittee of the Florida House on March 11, 2016. Cause of death is at this time unknown, but some speculate it was caused by self-inflicted stupidity.