- FAMRI Center
Pro-industry ecig bill advances in the California legislature over objections of health groups
Several months ago, California Senator Ellen Corbett introduced SB 648, a good piece of legislaion that would have said that ecigarettes cannot be smoked anywhere that cigarettes cannot be smoked. She managed to get it out of the Senate, but the pro-tobacco Assembly Speaker John Perez sent to the Governmental Organizations committee, where good tobacco legislation goes to die.
Late last week the bill was gutted to remove all the good language and simply prohibit ecigartte vendining machine sales in vending machines within 15 feet of the door of adult establishments. (This is exactly how the tobacco companies turned vending machine restrictions into a joke back when the issue was cigarette vending machines.)
The bill would only be useless if that had been all they did. But tobacco and ecigartte lobbyists also got the same problemmatic language listing e-cigarettes separately as neither a “cigarette” nor a “tobacco product” that put them in a special category, opening the door for allowing them special treatment and opening the potential for loopholes in a range of other legislation.
This is a strategy that the tobacco industry has been using all over the country to complicate regulation of e-cigarettes and also to create problems for the FDA, should Obama ever actually let the FDA do anything about ecigs.
E-cigarette manufacturer NJOY spoke in favor of the bill… as long as it included this new amendment to revise the language. Clearly it is something they want – they see the long term implications. They know what we fear – that this bill will weaken our efforts to regulate e-cigarettes at the state level moving forward in future legislative sessions.
As in other states, the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association in California opposed SB 648 in committee because of these industry amendments. GO chair Isadore Hall, a reciepient of tobacco industy money, moved these weakening amendments forward. and, echoing statements may by industry allies in other states, criticiized the health groups by saying “I am stricken that they would oppose a bill that would keep kids from getting e-cigarettes” and that “If they are against this bill they are for kids smoking.”
I have been supporting SB 648 as a good piece of legislation and appeared on KQED Forum with Sen. Corbett several months ago to discuss SB 648. When I heard about the gutting of the bill and its conversion into a pro-tobacco bill, I called her office and, like the health groups, urged her to pull the bill.
Despite these requests, she allowed this bad piece of legislation to move forward.
I hope that Senator Corbett, who has a good record on health, will come her senses, listen to the health groups and pull this bill.