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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Nixon enlists health professionals on e-cigarettes

  • Gov. Jay Nixon enlisted the support of health care professionals Wednesday as he sought to persuade lawmakers to sustain his veto of legislation exempting electronic cigarettes from state tobacco taxes and regulations.
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  • Gov. Jay Nixon enlisted the support of health care professionals Wednesday as he sought to persuade lawmakers to sustain his veto of legislation exempting electronic cigarettes from state tobacco taxes and regulations.
    Legislators are to meet next week to consider overriding Nixon's veto. They had passed the bill overwhelmingly earlier this year, citing a provision that would prohibit e-cigarette sales to people younger than 18.
    Nixon convened a panel of medical doctors and officials from the lung, heart and cancer associations at the University of Missouri's Ellis Fischel Cancer Center to highlight what they described as the dangers of electronic cigarettes. They all agreed that sales to minors should be banned, but said that could be accomplished by federal regulations and that the state exemption from tobacco taxes and regulations was inappropriate.
    "We shouldn't, in this one fell swoop under the guise of saying we're protecting kids ... provide this blanket shield to any sort of proper regulation for these type of products," Nixon said.
    Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that vaporize nicotine, some coming in flavors like bubble gum that could be appealing to children. They've been sold in the U.S. since 2007 and have grown to a $2 billion annual market.
    The federal Food and Drug Administration has proposed rules that would treat e-cigarettes as tobacco products, barring sales to minors and requiring warning labels. But it could take years before those rules are finalized, allowing youths to continue buying e-cigarettes in the meantime and potentially get hooked on nicotine, said state Sen. Jay Wasson, R-Nixa, who sponsored the state's legislation.
    The legislation originally passed the Senate 27-4 and the House 127-19 — both well in excess of the two-thirds majority required to override vetoes during a Sept. 10 session.
    Wasson said some of the support has since faded for the legislation because of Nixon's concerns, but he said he was still likely to attempt an override.
    "The most important thing right now is to stop these young kids from buying them," Wasson said, "because they're kind of becoming a fad."
    Wasson said he exempted e-cigarettes from tobacco taxes because of opposition by the state convenience store association and a fear that a tax could not pass the Republican-led Legislature.
    Health professionals at Nixon's event said it makes sense to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products, because they contain nicotine and can be addictive just like regular cigarettes.
    Dr. Lucas Buffaloe, an assistant professor of clinical family and community medicine at the university, said he sees a lot of patients who use e-cigarettes in hopes that will help them quit smoking or offer a safer alternative to regular cigarettes.
    But "we don't have good evidence that these products help people to quit smoking, and we also don't know what the long-term health effects of these products are going to be," he said.

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