TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida Senate panel on Tuesday began the work of implementing a voter-approved constitutional amendment to ban vaping in public places where cigarette smoking is already outlawed.
- Legislature has until July 1 to implement Amendment 2
- Amendment 2 stops short of grouping e-cigarettes with tobacco products
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The contours of the debate, however, skewed outside of the amendment's language, with public health advocates calling on senators to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco delivery devices.
Such a classification would allow the state to target vaping as hazardous to Floridians' health, potentially by wielding the power of the Tobacco-Free Florida advertising program.
Amendment 2 stopped short of grouping e-cigarettes with tobacco products. Lawmakers, the health advocates contend, have the ability to pass a more expansive set of regulations.
"The combustible tobacco product, the biggest problem is the nicotine that's in it, and that's the vast majority of what's in the pods that individuals use in the vaping," said Mark Landreth, a lobbyist for the American Heart Association.
But while vaping devices can be used to deliver the nicotine found in cigarettes, they also represent one of the only legal ways for medical marijuana patients to consume their drug, a fact several members of the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee raised to express their skepticism.
"Our obligation is to make sure that the amendment that was passed by the voters is strictly construed, I think," said Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples).
The Legislature has until July 1 to implement Amendment 2.