Changes possible in vaping, texting laws

vape(Photo credit: KATC News)

Published: June 3, 2019

By: Tryfon Boukouvidis, LSU Manship News Service

BATON ROUGE—Louisiana lawmakers are backing efforts to limit the sale of popular vaping pens to minors, tightening hazing laws on campuses, and expanding the state’s current texting while driving laws. A Senate committee approved these bills and sent them to the Senate floor where legislators will cast their vote this week.

A proposal by Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, would increase fines for vendors that sell vapor products to underage individuals. The new fines would go up from $50 to a maximum of $500 for a first violation, and from $100 to a maximum of $750 for a second violation. Any further violation would cost perpetrators up to $1,000.

Current fines for selling vaping products to people under 18 are “too low,” argued Talbot in the Senate Judiciary Committee C, pointing out that the existing law only mandates fines of up to $250 for a third violation and up to $400 for subsequent violations.

“I have two kids in high school and I can tell you the vaping is absolutely just rampant,” Talbot said, adding that the health impacts of these nicotine products are still unclear. “We’re still finding out what vape does to you,” he said.

Sen. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, amended the proposal to also include tobacco products.

“We’re just still discovering the dangers of vape,” Carter argued, “but we know today the dangers of tobacco.”

House lawmakers struck down a proposal in May to raise Louisiana’s legal smoking age from 18 to 21. The bill was only backed by 24 legislators while 55 voted against it.

The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, or ATC, collected in 2018 approximately $200,000 in tobacco fines on products sold to underage individuals, according to data by the Legislative Fiscal Office.

The percentage of adults who report using electronic cigarettes daily or on some days is 2.8 percent, according to a 2018 report by United States Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more in KATC News.

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