DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa House on Tuesday approved a bill barring the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
The legislation won the support of the House, where Republicans hold a majority, in a 76-22 vote. It will now move to the Iowa Senate, where a similar piece of legislation is under consideration.
Currently there are no restrictions on the sale of e-cigarettes in Iowa. E-cigarettes typically heat liquid and nicotine into a flavored, smokeless vapor. They're often used by smokers trying to quit, but e-cigarettes have grown increasingly popular among teenagers.
Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, said the bill would promote safety by establishing rules for selling these products.
"We acknowledge, I think, in this body that because nicotine may be addictive to some that it's appropriate to keep it out of the hands of children," Baltimore said.
Democrats offered several amendments to the bill that would have added more restrictions.
Rep. Tyler Olson, D-Cedar Rapids, sought to amend the bill to clarify that minors also would be barred from e-cigarettes that don't include nicotine and just offer flavored vapor, which he said would not be covered by the bill. He also wanted to amend language in the bill that he says could mean some tobacco products — like dissolvable types of tobacco — could be exempted from taxes.
Lawmakers opted not to take the amendment up for a vote. Another amendment to bar e-cigarettes from schools was also blocked from a vote.
Baltimore said most school districts already bar e-cigarettes. He also said his legislation would not change the rules governing tobacco products and argued that once an e-cigarette lacks nicotine, "what you're regulating is a plastic tube with humidity."
Industry groups have expressed support for the effort to restrict e-cigarettes. But public health advocates have said that while they support barring sales to minors, they also want e-cigarettes to be classed as tobacco products, making them subject to additional restrictions and taxation.