LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA) — Senator Jim Hendren has introduced a bill to restrict vaping in Arkansas.
Vaping would be restricted just as smoking cigarettes is restricted, it would be taxed like tobacco products and its marketing to minors would be prohibited under legislation drafted by Senator Hendren of Gravette, the President Pro Tempore of the Arkansas Senate.
“The potential harm to our children’s health makes it imperative that we act with urgency,” Hendren said. “The Health Department reports that vaping among teenagers is at epidemic levels, and minors who use e-cigarettes are at risk for contracting severe lung disease.”
Hendren released a draft bill Monday that would prohibit vaping and the use of e-cigarettes in all the locations where tobacco smoking is prohibited under the Arkansas Clean Indoor Air Act.
It would prohibit billboards that advertise e-cigarettes within 1,000 feet of a school or playground, and it would prohibit companies from handing out free samples to minors.
The penalty would be a Class A misdemeanor and significantly, the revocation or suspension of the company’s license.
The bill would tax e-cigarettes in the same manner as tobacco products, with the revenue going for school safety improvements such as purchasing security equipment and hiring security personnel. Also, it would be used to hire mental health counselors for students with mental health problems and addiction issues.
“I’ve circulated a draft bill among legislators, and I’m encouraged by the favorable response,” Hendren said. “Now, the question is when will the legislature have the opportunity to consider it.”
To read the entire bill, click here.
Vape shop owners say if a tax is implemented, they will have to increase prices – possibly doubling the current costs.
“It affects both the store itself and the customers because if the tax goes up on us, we have to raise the prices and it affects everyone in the long run,” Asst. Manager of Crazy J’s Chris Grant said. “In the end, it’s going to be just as expensive to have any time of e-vapor than it would be to have regular cigarettes.”