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Political news notes: Vaping bill signed . . . Dems praise veto of HB340

Rep. Green’s Vaping Regulations Bill Signed by the Governor. Gov. Brad Little has signed into law a bill that will make electronic smoking devices less accessible to Idaho’s youth.

House Bill 538 aims to create parity between traditional tobacco products and new, electronic smoking devices. This legislation allows the Department of Health and Welfare to permit the retailers of vaping products in the same way that retailers of other tobacco products are currently permitted.

Rep. Brooke Green (D-Boise) began working on this legislation during the interim alongside a large group of stakeholders including Saint Alphonsus, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, United Way of Treasure Valley and others with the common goal of making vaping products less accessible to Idaho’s youth.

“Idaho has had a shocking rise in tobacco use among our youth,” Green said. “There are currently no federal regulations on the chemicals used in vaping products. Young people may not understand that tobacco use via an electronic smoking device is just as addictive and dangerous as a cigarette. We worked across the aisle to create bipartisan legislation that would help to keep our youth safe.

“This bill had support from policymakers who are concerned about the future of children across the state. This legislation expands the definition of tobacco products to include this new generation of electronic smoking devices that are commonly used by minors.

“I am concerned that people in our communities are falling into addictive habits far too young. Vaping products are marketed toward Idaho’s children. Fun flavors and discrete devices make them easy and fun to use and without parity between traditional tobacco regulations and electronic smoking devices, we have no way of keeping these dangerous devices out of the hands of our teenagers. This is a step in the right direction to reduce youth access to vaping products and end the epidemic of youth tobacco use in Idaho.” 

Governor Little Vetoes HB 340Gov. Little has vetoed HB 340, which would have allowed residential alcohol and substance abuse treatment programs for juveniles to operate without a license. All the House and Senate Democrats voted against the bill while it was making its way through the legislature. 

“We are deeply disappointed that the governor chose to sign HB 440, 500, and 509 into law,” said a statement by the Idaho House and Senate Democratic caucus. “We are grateful that the governor chose to veto HB 340 -- this bill would have put Idaho children in danger of abuse during their most vulnerable moments of recovery. In his justification for the veto, Governor Little discussed the importance of protecting Idaho children from harm, and noted that this legislation conflicted with that goal. We wish that Governor Little had exercised that same compassion and concern in connection with other legislation passed by the legislature this year.”

“From the moment this bill was introduced in committee, Democrats heeded the warnings of the overwhelming majority of those testifying against HB340, and warned our legislative colleagues that HB 340 put Idaho children in jeopardy.  Unfortunately, most Republican members would not listen to these concerns. Thankfully, the governor has chosen to stop this harmful legislation from becoming law.”