Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed Tuesday a bill that would have banned the sale of flavored nicotine vapor products in the state. The bill originally passed in March, but due to coronavirus-related delays, it only reached his desk on Thursday, Sept 4th.
The bill, SB810, was set to ban all flavors except for menthol and tobacco. It was originally designed to raise the legal age to purchase products to 21, but the addition of the flavor ban was part of an amendment late in the legislative process.
While originally conceived as a bill to raise the legal age to buy tobacco to 21,” said Gov. DeSantis in his veto transmission letter, “SB 810 effectively bans tobacco-free vaping flavors used by hundreds of thousands of Floridians as a reduced-risk alternative to cigarettes, which are more dangerous.”
In the months since the bill passed the Florida House, the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA) launched a strong, online campaign calling for consumers of nicotine vapor products in the state to contact the governor and share their stories about switching to vapor products.
The Vapor Technology Association estimated the economic impact of the vapor industry in Florida to be $1.5 billion, a figure that could have impacted the governor’s decision to veto late Tuesday night.
While this veto was met with applause from the tobacco harm reduction community, it does come on the eve of an FDA deadline which states that the only vaping products that can be legally sold in the United States after Sept 9th, 2020, will be products that have completed a Pre-Market Tobacco Application or PMTA.
It is estimated a single PMTA can cost hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. The Rocky Mountain Smoke-Free Association estimates 14,000 small vape businesses employing over 160,000 workers will be forced to close around the United States, representing $24 billion in economic activity.
“This legislation would almost assuredly lead more people to resume smoking cigarettes, and it would drive others to the hazardous black market,” DeSantis wrote. “The latter consequence is especially significant because the much-publicized cases of lung injury associated with vaping in recent years have been traced to illegal, or black market, vape cartridges containing THC, not the types of legal vaping products that this bill would abolish.”
This is a significant statement as many other United States governors, including New York’s Andrew Cuomo and California’s Gavin Newsom, signed bills into law very much like the one vetoed in Florida.
DeSantis added, “reducing the use of all nicotine-related products, including vaping among our youth, is an important goal, but this will not be achieved by eliminating legal products for adults and by devastating the small businesses who provide these adults with reduced-risk alternatives to cigarettes.”