Implementing a voter-approved ban on electronic smoking devices in workplaces is moving forward in the Florida House of Representatives, without a proposal by anti-smoking advocates to redefine vaping devices as tobacco products.
A measure passed by the House Health Quality Subcommittee Wednesday mirrors a longstanding ban on smoking tobacco in indoor workplaces and would add vaping to a state law that bars people from smoking tobacco within 1,000 feet of schools. State Representative Mike Beltran is sponsoring the bill.
“You wouldn’t be able to smoke or vape in an indoor workplace. So, in restaurants, offices, public buildings, places of that nature, you wouldn’t be able to vape there, just as you’re not allowed to smoke," State Rep. Mike Beltran, R-Hillsborough County.
However, anti-smoking advocates argue the bill does not go far enough. Ashley Lyerly with the American Lung Association feels vaping devices should be considered tobacco products by the state, which would help Florida’s Tobacco Free Florida’s educational efforts to slow the increased usage by kids of e-cigarettes.
“The voters’ intent on Amendment Nine was to modernize the current provisions of Florida’s Clean Indoor Air Act, and to include an extremely prevalent and alarming tobacco product," Ashley Lyerly, American Lung Association.
With about 7.8 million votes cast, Amendment Nine passed in November with the support of nearly 69 percent of Florida voters.
The proposal was bundled by the state Constitution Revision Commission with a prohibition on drilling for gas and oil in state coastal waters. Once the vaping ban is enacted by the Legislature, violators would face a civil infraction that carries a 25 dollar fine or 50 hours of community service.
“If folks want to make other policy changes, then that is their prerogative. But, the purpose of this particular bill is to simply implement the amendment," Mike Beltran, R- Hillsborough County.
“The Lung Association strongly recommends that electronic cigarettes be designated as a tobacco product, defined as electronic smoking devices, and the act of using such devices be considered smoking and second-hand smoke," Ashley Lyerly, American Lung Association.