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Proposed bill strives to clarify legal vaping products in Georgia

Josh Reyes, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Business News

Georgia may adopt a directory of vaping products that can be sold in the state, a move that supporters say will help businesses know what they can sell and help authorities enforce the law.

Vape shop owners, however, have said the bill would significantly hurt their businesses and remove vapes that help people quit smoking.

Rep. Houston Gaines, R-Athens, said House Bill 1260, known as the Georgia Nicotine Vapor Products Directory Act, is “aimed at getting the vape marketplace in Georgia under control.” The House passed the bill Thursday, and it’s now headed to the Senate.

Lawmakers referred to the vape industry in Georgia as the “wild, Wild West” during committee discussions.

“Right now, we have no enforcement of vapes that are on the shelves in Georgia, and I believe it is imperative we get a handle on what’s happening in our state,” Gaines said, adding that many of the most popular products are produced in China and specifically appeal to youths.

“There are countless examples of young people in Georgia who have vaped just one time, and it’s changed their lives,” Gaines said. “Sometimes, it’s a flavored vape that gets them hooked. Other times, it’s a fentanyl-laced vape that puts them in the hospital or worse.”

School and health officials have spoken similarly about youth vaping, and many Georgia districts have created specific discipline policies about vaping.

 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Youth Tobacco Survey estimated 2.1 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2023, a decline from the prior year. Georgia schools, however, saw an increase in vaping discipline over the past two school years from 18,724 incidents to 22,204.

Along with creating a registry, the bill would set fines for violations and expectations for inspections.

Dillon Gilbert, who owns nine vape stores in Columbus and Savannah, said the bill “would be a death blow to our industry.” He and other vape shop owners and industry representatives who testified in House committee meetings said the bill would take their most effective and popular products off of shelves.

Gaines said the bill doesn’t make any legal products illegal. Items on the registry would include the 23 vaping products that have received approval from the FDA and products that can be marketed because they’re awaiting approval. The FDA has specifically cracked down on fruit- and candy-flavored products because of their popularity among youths.

Gilbert said the FDA’s system is broken with a massive backlog of products awaiting judgment. He pointed out that the products approved are connected to major tobacco producers and have higher concentrations of nicotine than he’d recommend to most customers.

Limiting selection wouldn’t just lead to shuttered stores, vape shop owners said. It would lead people back to tobacco.


©2024 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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