SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill that would put popular flavors of electronic cigarette cartridges further out of the reach of teens.
The hope is to prevent nicotine addiction in rising generations, said HB274 sponsor Rep. Jen Dailey-Provost, D-Salt Lake City.
"We have an obligation to protect our kids, sometimes from themselves," she told the voting body. "Every life we save is a win."
Dissenters voiced objection to the bill because of a potentially reduced tax revenue from the flavored products, which are also popular among adults who use e-cigarettes. Overreaching government was another complaint.
"Let's let the government jump in and fix the world with another law to abide by," Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, sarcastically said. He said kids aren't going to stop smoking just because they can't see the colorful signs marketing flavored cartridges at a convenience store, which is what the bill would essentially do.
HB274 would put the flavored cartridges for sale only at specialty smoke shops that are licensed to deal tobacco products. The products, like traditional cigarettes, are only sold behind the counter and cannot be purchased by anyone under 19 in the state of Utah.
But Dailey-Provost said that isn't good enough and too many teens are becoming addicted using products they perceive as harmless.
Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, said e-cigarettes have reversed youth's declining use of tobacco in recent years.
"This is the new tobacco," she said. "I think it is time we take a stand for young people … and help prevent this from happening to the next generation."
HB274 moves to the Senate for further consideration.