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Senate panel advances bill banning huka, e-cigarettes in public places

Published: Monday, Feb. 27 2012 11:11 a.m. MST

In this May 31, 2011 photo, Cliff Phillips, a 61-year-old retiree and former smoker, and his wife, Vali, enjoy electronic cigarettes at their home in Cuba, Ill., Tuesday, May 31, 2011.

Seth Perlman, Associated Press

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SALT LAKE CITY — Hukas and e-cigarettes would be included in the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act under legislation a Senate committee approved Monday.

"If we want to eliminate hukas and e-cigarettes in public places, we need to do something," Rep. Brad Last, R-Hurricane, told the Senate Workforce Services and Community and Economic Development Committee. HB245 has already passed the House and now moves to the Senate floor.

The bill grants a five-year exemption to huka bars and businesses that sell e-cigarettes that can be used on the premises.

"With a fence around it for five years, we can evaluate how it works," Last said.

Michael Siler, government relations director for the Utah chapter of the American Cancer Society, spoke against the bill not as an endorsement of smoking but because it grants the exception. "This is bad policy," he said.

Nate Porter, whose family owns the Huka Bar & Grill, said he supports the bill because it's the right thing to do even though "we'll be up here in five years fighting the same battle."

E-cigarette users said the devices do not emit smoke but vapor that does not pose a cancer risk. Local doctors testified that the public needs protection from secondhand huka and e-cigarette smoke containing nicotine.

Dennis Romboy

Twitter: dennisromboy

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