Iowa legislation that would ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors approved by House committee, but public health advocates want e-cigarettes placed under same regulations as traditional tobacco products, which are taxed higher, have more restrictions

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa , February 4, 2014 () – Legislation banning the sale of electronic cigarettes -- or e-cigarettes -- to minors as approved 22-1 by an Iowa House committee 22-1 Monday, but faces an uncertain future despite what its sponsor called its "relatively simple nature."

House Study Bill 566 also bars minors from purchasing e-cigarettes, which use batteries to heat liquid nicotine and produce a vapor users can inhale, according to floor manager Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone.

Although retail and tobacco producer advocates and consumers support the measure that now goes to the full House. However HSB 566 falls short of the restrictions anti-smoking advocates call for.

Public health advocates want e-cigarettes placed under the same regulations as traditional tobacco products that are taxed higher and have restrictions on where they can be used.

Baltimore and a majority of the committee resisted an amendment offered by Rep. Chris Hall, D-Sioux City, to treat e-cigarettes like traditional tobacco products.

"Only by legislative creation can we turn something into something that it is not," Baltimore said. The amendment, which he called worthless, would "turn simulated smoking into smoking and nicotine into tobacco. It does nothing for this bill other than to convolute" it by making it subject to the state ban on smoking in the workplace and a "taxation scheme" at some future time.

"In as much as they were condescending," Hall responded, Baltimore's comments were "worthless."

His amendment failed 9 to 14 when all Republicans and one Democrat voted against it.

The bill then passed 22-1 with only Rep. Dawn Pettengill, R-Mount Auburn, voting against it.

"It's a good start," said Rep. Jim Lykam, D-Davenport, but said it faces an uncertain future if it gets to the Democratic-controlled Senate.

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