Vaping legislation awaiting governor's signature

By TIM SINIARD
Posted 4/19/19

The next step for a bill restricting vaping in Tennessee is for the proposed law to land on Gov. Bill Lee's desk for his signature.The Tennessee General Assembly has passed new legislation that …

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Vaping legislation awaiting governor's signature

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The next step for a bill restricting vaping in Tennessee is for the proposed law to land on Gov. Bill Lee's desk for his signature.

The Tennessee General Assembly has passed new legislation that treats vaping the same as cigarettes and tobacco products, which are already restricted in certain public areas such as schools and restaurants.

The new law was sponsored by two members of Bradley County's legislative delegation: state Rep. Dan Howell (R-Georgetown) and state Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga).

According to a release from Howell and Gardenhire, “after years of aggressive anti-tobacco campaigns aimed at teenagers, students have largely rejected smoking. However, millions have tried vaping. As a result, school leaders are scrambling to revise discipline policies and drug prevention classes to warn students of the danger of inhaling flavor-infused nicotine vapor which is highly addictive.”


“This issue was brought to our attention a few months ago during a meeting with educators in Bradley County” Gardenhire said. “Dr. Linda Cash expressed concern about the growing number of students, many in elementary school, who find ways of concealing their vaping habit at school.” 


Too often, educators say, the result is nicotine addiction, discipline problems and general disruption among the student body.

“The goal of this legislation is to give educators in Tennessee the tools they need to address the vaping issue just as they do tobacco,” Howell said. “While vaping mimics smoking, it is not tobacco. So school administrators did not have the authority they needed to deal with it. By adding vaping to Title 39 in the Tennessee code, they can now address this issue as they have done with tobacco.” 

Howell told the Cleveland Daily Banner that many believe vaping and nicotine addiction will be the next health crisis for teens.


Federal officials estimate the number of high school students using vaping products has risen 75 percent in the past year to about 3 million students and has overtaken tobacco in popularity.
    

Howell said research has shown that many students will use at least one pod of vaping per day.

“It’s equal to one pack of cigarettes,” Howell said. “It’s concentrated nicotine, and it is a serious issue.”


Howell represents the 22nd Legislative District which includes Meigs, Polk and part of Bradley County. Gardenhire represents the 10th Senatorial District which includes parts of Bradley and Hamilton counties.

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