By KIN EASTER
State Sen. Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin) agreed to sponsor a bill with a House colleague that would ban vaping in public places.
A longtime pharmacist and the Senate speaker pro tempore, Haile said there is currently very little information on the effects of vaping, but he reasoned that it should be regulated the same way a new drug on the market would be.
“There should be some oversight and this is the spot for it in my opinion,” Haile said. “This is not going to stop the market, but we feel like the proper response is to regulate this.”
The bill, in its initial stages and carried by Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) in the House, has been passed Thursday upon first consideration in both chambers. It would amend the Non-Smoker Protection Act of 2007.
The Tennessee Department of Health had previously stated that the Non-Smoker Protection Act did not prohibit vaping, but advised this past January against using e-cigarettes because “those who are thinking about them for recreational purposes should know they are placing themselves at risk for developing a lifelong nicotine addiction or exposing themselves and others to substantial harm.”
The new bill sponsored by Haile and Dunn would insert new language into the Non-Smoker Protection Act, banning “any noncombustible product containing nicotine or any other substance that employs a mechanical heating element, electronic circuit, or other mechanism, regardless of shape or size, that can be used to produce or emit vapor.”
The Non-Smoker Protection Act mainly bans smoking in municipal offices and in most public and private workplaces.
Haile said Dunn asked him to sponsor the bill in the Senate. Dunn could not be reached for comment, but his staffer, Mary Ellen Tate, said the Metro Drug Coalition of Knoxville brought the issue to his attention.
Karen Pershing, the coalition’s executive director, could not be reached for comment either.