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E-Cigarette Bills Pass Missouri House And Senate On Same Day

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate and Missouri House have both passed bills to ban sales of electronic nicotine delivery devices to minors.

House Bill 1690 and Senate Bill 841 would both limit the sales of these devices, sometimes called e-cigarettes, to consumers 18 years old and older, and both versions would not subject the devices to  regulation or taxation as tobacco products. 

That provision drew the ire of several Democrats in the House, including state Rep. Jill Schupp of Creve Coeur.  She grilled the bill's sponsor, Republican Caleb Rowden of Columbia, on why his bill would not tax e-cigarettes.

"I want to know where this came from," Schupp said.  "Where did this additional language, that was not in the bill that was heard (in committee), come from, gentleman?"

Rowden replied, "It came from my brain."

"From your brain," Schupp retorted, "not from Big Tobacco and Small Tobacco lobbyists who are putting in this kind of language in 26 other states around the country?"

Rowden and other Republicans defended the language, saying that the bill would be defeated if it included the taxation of nicotine devices. Without the law, minors would continue to be able to buy them.

"This does not do anything to close down any future regulation, any future actions that need to be taken," Rowden said.  "We're not standing with Big Tobacco, we're not standing with Small Tobacco, we're not standing with (those) organizations, we're standing with the minors of Missouri…it's that simple."

In the Senate, the main objection to the provision barring taxation came from a Republican, Rob Schaaf of St. Joseph.

"Honestly, I feel that electronic cigarettes ought to be regulated, they ought to be taxed as tobacco products," said Schaaf, who's also a physician.  "What we're doing here is we're protecting Big Tobacco from having these products regulated and taxed."

The House version would also ban e-cigarettes on public school property, while the Senate version would not.  Leaders in both chambers have just over a month to hammer out a final version of the proposal.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.