After the governor of Florida vetoed a similar proposal in years prior, lawmakers are again pushing for Tobacco 21 legislation to conform to federal law.
Both chambers of the Florida state legislature have proposed Senate Bill 1080 and House Bill 987 as attempts to raise the age to smoke and vape to 21 years at the local level. That means, if these bills pass, Florida will finally be aligned with the federal minimum legal sales age that was changed to 21 years and went into force in 2020.
A year before, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a more restrictive bill. WUSF Public Media reported that the old measure went too far and threatened smokers who turned to flavored vaping products as a less risky alternative to combustible cigarettes.
Attorney general Ashley Moody, also a Republican, supported the previous bill. She joined support with the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association. Both of those public health advocacy groups oppose the use of e-cigarettes as risk-reduced alternatives to smoking. The Senate Health Policy Committee unanimously approved the Senate version of the Tobacco 21 legislation that State Sen. Travis Huston introduced.
Hutson said that the local vaping industry supports the measure, which doesn’t include a prohibition on flavored vaping products, which was ‘strenuously opposed by the retailers.
“That’s one of the reasons the governor vetoed this bill, so working with all parties in trying to get where we think would be something that we can all have an agreement on, shake hands, walk away and get it to the governor, where he will sign,” he told the panel.
The American Cancer Society’s local representative noted that their organization opposes the Senate version of the legislation for several reasons. While Huston notes that the legislation aligns the state with federal law, the public health lobby opposes the bill because it doesn’t implement a flavor ban. Keep in mind that most state flavor bans are only implemented in a capacity that appeals to the needs of the local industry.
However, federal crackdowns on flavors only have ever applied to pod-based vape products. Given the unanimous support for the legislation in the Senate, it is highly likely that this proposal will make it to the desk of the governor.