Idaho State Capitol – On Friday, Governor Little signed into law a bill that will make electronic smoking devices less accessible to Idaho’s youth. House Bill 538 aims to create parity between traditional tobacco products and new, electronic smoking devices. This legislation allows the Department of Health and Welfare to permit the retailers of vaping products in the same way that retailers of other tobacco products are currently permitted.
Representative Brooke Green/(D-Boise) began working on this legislation during the interim alongside a large group of stakeholders including Saint Alphonsus, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, United Way of Treasure Valley and others with the common goal of making vaping products less accessible to Idaho’s youth.
“Idaho has had a shocking rise in tobacco use among our youth,” Rep. Green explained. “There are currently no federal regulations on the chemicals used in vaping products. Young people may not understand that tobacco use via an electronic smoking device is just as addictive and dangerous as a cigarette. We worked across the aisle to create bipartisan legislation that would help to keep our youth safe.
“This bill had support from policymakers who are concerned about the future of children across the state. This legislation expands the definition of tobacco products to include this new generation of electronic smoking devices that are commonly used by minors.
“I am concerned that people in our communities are falling into addictive habits far too young. Vaping products are marketed toward Idaho’s children. Fun flavors and discrete devices make them easy and fun to use and without parity between traditional tobacco regulations and electronic smoking devices, we have no way of keeping these dangerous devices out of the hands of our teenagers. This is a step in the right direction to reduce youth access to vaping products and end the epidemic of youth tobacco use in Idaho.”
“We know the decades of negative health impacts cigarettes and other tobacco use have had, and while electronic smoking devices have not been around long enough to know long term effects, I think it’s safe to say that the increasing use of these products by youth who are not previous tobacco users is problematic,” Erin Bennett, Government Relations Director at the American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association. “This legislation will help prevent these products from getting into the hands of kids who don’t understand how addictive they can be, or how harmful they are to the health of young people who may not see the impact immediately.”
“Ensuring that we aren’t letting electronic smoking devices and other tobacco products fall into the hands of young people who can become more easily addicted, and be victim to health consequences of which we don’t yet know the full extent, is an essential health goal. The legislature, in passing House Bill 538 has taken a crucial step in protecting Idaho’s youth, and we appreciate the effort of every legislator working to help build a healthier Idaho.”