Business & Economy

E-cigarette restrictions get House approval

Lawmakers endorsed a bill Tuesday that puts limits on the sale and use of electronic cigarettes.

H.171 would ban their use indoors at workplaces and restaurants.

Introducing the bill on the House floor Tuesday, Rep. Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington, said the legislation “will strengthen the social norm of not smoking.”

Under the proposal, e-cigarettes would need to be kept behind sales counters or inside a locked container in stores. The bill also would ban the use of e-cigarettes in workplaces across the state, with exceptions for the Vermont Veterans’ Home and shops that sell tobacco paraphernalia but don’t sell food.

Krowinski said the bill would help protect children and pregnant women from secondhand smoke.

Supporters of the bill cited use of e-cigarettes by young Vermonters as a big issue. Roughly a third of Vermont teenagers have tried using e-cigarettes, according to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

One opponent, Rep. Paul Dame, R-Essex Junction, was the lone vote against the bill in the House Human Services Committee.

Dame said that from looking at the data provided to the committee, he didn’t see a “compelling case” that there is a big health risk from the secondhand smoke from e-cigarettes.

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The evidence he saw showed that “it’s not a public health concern,” he said.

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Elizabeth Hewitt

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