South Dakota lawmakers weigh ban on many flavors of vaping products

Some health officials and anti-smoking activists also worry about inserting legal marijuana into the growing world of vaping, given uncertainties about the smoking alternative’s long-term effects. | HAZEMMKAMAL, iStock

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – South Dakota lawmakers are considering banning many flavors of vaping products in order to curb usage among teens.

Rep. Carl Perry, an Aberdeen Republican, filed a bill in the House on Thursday that would make it illegal to sell or possess vaping flavors other than mint, menthol and tobacco. The bill, as currently written, would put a South Dakotan flavor to federal policies that ban fruit, candy, and dessert flavors from small, cartridge-based e-cigarette. The proposed law would allow mint flavors. but also apply to large, tank-based vaping devices.

“I’m trying to make it so our youth don’t have as much access to vaping products,” said Perry.

He said he decided to introduce the bill after speaking with school principals from his community who described an “epidemic” of vaping use among teens. He also received help from the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and other doctor’s groups in writing the bill.

The bill has been referred to the House Health and Human Services Committee, where it would need to be approved before it could go to the full House for a vote. It would then need to clear the Senate and be signed by Gov. Kristi Noem to become law.

Perry said the bill would likely undergo revisions if it advances through that process. He said he did not want to stop people who use vaping products to quit smoking.

Perry successfully led a charge last year to add e-cigarettes and vaping products to the list of tobacco products that are not allowed in public buildings and workplaces. He said increased public awareness that vaping can cause illnesses and death has strengthened his cause this year. Most of those who got sick said they vaped products containing THC, the compound that gives marijuana its high.

Perry’s bill includes language that would allow law enforcement to seize flavored vaping products without a warrant.

He also introduced a bill on Thursday that would change the state’s minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. He described that legislation as “cleaning up” state law to be compliant with federal policies that recently upped the age requirement.

Nathan Sanderson, the Executive Director of the South Dakota Retailers Association, said the association was reviewing Perry’s bills. He said, “Philosophically, we’re supportive of aligning state law with federal law.”

He expected the to have some input on the language of the law.

A pro-vaping advocacy group was not so warm to the proposed flavored vaping ban.

Gregory Conley, the president of the American Vaping Association, said flavored vaping products are essential to helping adult smokers quit tobacco-use. He argued that a flavor ban would not reduce its use among youth, but create a black market for the products instead.