Conflicting opinions at public hearing for proposed vaping rule in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY -- Both sides were aired Wednesday morning at a public hearing regarding a proposed rule to help regulate vaping products.

The rule, proposed by the Utah Department of Health, would require all tobacco retailers to display mandatory nicotine warning signs and restrict the sale of flavored e- cigarette products to retail tobacco specialty shops.

Juan Bravo, the President of the Utah Vapor Business Association, said the new rule is wrong.

“The issue that we as the UVBA have with it and why we’re opposing this rule is because right now you have stores that have been operating legally and complying with the law all of this time that are now being targeted due to a retroactive grandfather date implemented by house bill 324," Bravo said. "It was implemented in 2018 but had a grandfather date of 2015 so businesses that opened between 2015 and 2018 are now going to be put out of business."

But others said the rule is a step in the right direction.

“We feel these rules are a good step and really trying to restrict access for these flavored tobacco products to these law-abiding stores,” said Marc Watterson, the Government Relations Director of the American Heart Association.

The health department said the purpose is to inform youth, parents, and the public that vaping nicotine can cause addiction and harm brain development.

“If you look at what’s being used, flavors again are not the main reason why they’re going towards the product," Bravo said. "It’s actually the accessibility to products like Juul, Juul is 80 percent of the reason why youth are using the product."

Watterson disagrees.

“It’s not a Juul problem anymore, as we’ve heard from high school and middle school principals," he said. "Kids are moving on to different products because they’re cheaper and because they can refill them and so this is becoming a widespread problem that isn’t just based on one type of product out there, it’s all vaping products and it’s because of the flavors."

This new rule may seem like one that was talked about last year, and that’s because it’s almost the same as one a judge struck down in 2019.

If you’d like to make a comment regarding the rule you have until February 28 and you can email your comments to tobaccorulescomments@utah.gov

If this rule goes into effect, it’ll do so in March of this year.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.