One key question a voter should ask when considering potential legislation is, “Who benefits from the bill?”
In the case of SB 841, under consideration in the Missouri Senate, the answer seems to be the tobacco industry.
This legislation apparently proposes a great idea: Prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Taking a closer look, however, much more appears to be going on that could greatly impact Missouri’s policies on tobacco control.
As written, this bill creates a special classification for e-cigarettes, exempting them from existing tobacco laws.
Many health organizations oppose this bill, and with good reason. The e-cigarette industry wants everyone to believe that these products are a safer alternative to smoking.
Only a limited number of studies have examined the contents of the e-cigarette vapors; discovering heavy metals and volatile organic compounds in some of the products, along with some of the same toxins and nicotine as in traditional cigarettes.
The long-term health effects of inhaling e-cigarette vapors are scientifically undetermined.
E-cigarettes should be regulated on public-health terms in the interest of our citizens’ well-being. Missouri should treat e-cigarettes like all other tobacco products until more research is conducted, and our Missouri Senate should amend this bill to include e-cigarettes in the current definition of tobacco products.
Margie Mitchell lives in Columbia.