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Arizona lawmaker calls for more restrictions on e-cigarettes

(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

PHOENIX — An Arizona lawmaker wants to tighten the rules on e-cigarettes and other vaping products to stop their rising use among teenagers.

State Sen.-elect Heather Carter (R-Cave Creek) has introduced Senate Bill 1009 in an effort to update laws to combat ever-changing e-cigarette technology.

The bill would also aim to regulate products like “modular pods that plug into a device. All of those accessories are not captured under the existing definition,” she said.

Carter says e-cigarette makers trick teens and adults into thinking vaping is safer than other tobacco use.

A local education leader supported the bill, saying students at Cactus Shadows High School in Scottsdale feared going to restrooms where others were vaping.

“They said students were actually in class using Juul pods,” said Debbi Burdick, superintendent of Cave Creek Schools.

Meanwhile, one e-cigarette lobbyist has issues with that state bill that would restrict use of his industry’s products.

Steve Johnson with the Arizona Smoke Free Business Alliance says the bill would lump e-cigarette restrictions with tobacco restrictions.

“The stigma of throwing them in with tobacco products actively harms that, because now the public looks at it and goes, ‘Oh yeah, it’s another cigarette, and we all know cigarettes kill people,'” Johnson said.

Instead, Johnson wants separate regulations for vaping, which he says helped him end his two-pack-a-day cigarette addiction ten years ago.

“Obviously, the products are not 100 percent safe. We’re well aware of that,” Johnson said. “But a lot of sources have quoted them at between 5 and 10 percent (of) the harm of a tobacco cigarette.”

Health departments reject that claim, saying e-cigarette makers target teens to hook them.

Johnson says his industry only wants adults to vape.

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