Feb 20 Legislative Update

Just a quick update for everyone on the 2017 session due to a few new bills that have been published since our last update.

Since our update last Friday, we have had 2 new bills introduced which directly or indirectly affect the vapor industry. We are not yet prepared to issue calls to actions but ask that you please remain ready to act on short notice. We are down to less than 3 weeks until the end of the session so things will happen very quickly and with little notice.

HB333 – Utah Indoor Clean Air Act Amendments. Since 2012, the speciality retailers in Utah have been allowed to vape indoors for sampling and demonstration purposes only. The bill that passed back then set a 5-year sunset period which ends July 1 of this year. This bill simply removes this July 1 expiration and makes no other changes to the law. This has been assigned to the House Health & Human Services committee with no hearing date set.

HB325 – Tobacco Sales Enforcement Amendments. This bill is “generally” supported by the UTSFA and our membership as it strengthens the penalties at the retail point of sale for any business that sells tobacco and vapor products when they are caught selling to minors. The vast majority of our retail members check ID’s very seriously and many have a long track record of perfect compliance. While this is a stronger penalty, the vast majority of our members fully support this approach. This has been assigned to the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee but has not been added to an agenda yet.

New! HB370 – Amendments to Tobacco Regulations. This bill requires new burdensome licensing requirements, modifies zoning, and appears to add vaping into the definition of smoking. We are carefully reviewing the full intent and impact of this bill with our lobbyists and industry partners and also working to gain an audience with the sponsor to better understand his intent with the bill. This one has not yet been assigned to a committee.

New! HB406 – Tobacco Age Restriction Amendments. This is the 4th attempt to elevate the use & possession age for tobacco and vapor products. If enacted into law, this would prohibit legal adults age 18, 19, or 20 from purchasing or possessing tobacco products, vapor products or related paraphernalia. It would ban the sale of such items to those under 21 and prohibit those under 21 from being present at specialty establishments where such items are sold or used—unless accompanied by a parent—unless you’re “an active duty member of the United States Armed Forces.”

Enforcement of this follows a phased approach:

  • Beginning on July 1, 2018, the minimum age for obtaining, possessing, or using tobacco products is 20 years of age; and
  • Beginning on January 1, 2019, the minimum age for obtaining, possessing, or
    using tobacco products is 21 years of age.

The UTSFA holds the position that instead of criminalizing adult behavior, we should be focused on increased education and awareness about the dangers of these habits. We believe that we should help teens not start in the first place by understanding what causes the choice to smoke and help prevent it through education instead of law.

 

We maintain our vigilance in monitoring for the rumored tax bill and any other regulatory bill that will affect the industry. As the situations warrant, community Calls to Action will be issued via the UTSFA, CASAA, VTA and any other resource necessary to protect YOUR rights.

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