Sen. Leno drops e-cigarette bill that was gutted in Assembly

State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) dropped a bill Wednesday that would have regulated electronic cigarettes after it was gutted by an Assembly panel to no longer treat vaping devises as tobacco products facing the same restrictions as cigarettes.

After the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee voted 11 to 3 to approve a hostile amendment to the bill, Leno told the panel he was walking away from it “On behalf of the next generation of Californians who will become addicted to nicotine as a result of your vote.”

Leno said his sponsors of the bill, including the American Lung Assn. and American Cancer Society, also were withdrawing their support for the watered-down measure, which was held in committee as a result.

“I no longer believe in it. None of my sponsors believe in it,” Leno said. “I disassociate myself from it. It’s a very dangerous bill now.”

He said removing a provision designating e-cigarettes as tobacco products allows vaping device manufacturers to continue to market their products to minors. Five Democrats voted with Republicans for the amendment, which was sought by the electronic cigarette industry.

Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno) argued for the amendment, saying that without it, the law would harm those who make and sell electronic cigarettes that do not use nicotine.

“We have a whole group of individuals who will get caught up in this political, bureaucratic thing when they don’t have to be,” Perea said. “I don’t want there to be collateral damage for some folks.”

Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) said he was disappointed that the panel made the bill “toothless."

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