Arizona part of national strategy for vape industry

A Juul device. Photo by Vaping360 | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

The vaping industry’s push to trade higher age restrictions for looser regulations elsewhere in Arizona law is part of a larger nationwide trend.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that Juul Labs and other vaping industry interests are targeting statehouses around the United States to push “T21” legislation, which raises the age to purchase tobacco and other nicotine products to 21 years. But those bills often come with catches that free the industry from other regulatory burdens.

State preemption is a goal of some of the industry-supported legislation. In states like Arizona and Arkansas, the industry is attaching T21 legislation to preemption laws that ban local governments from imposing their own regulations on vapor products, the Times reported.

In South Carolina, a Juul lobbyist who was speaking on behalf of a different client, testified in favor of a preemption proposal that would bar cities and counties from banning the sale of flavored e-cigarette products. In Sacramento, the company unsuccessfully sought to fend off a ban on flavored e-cigarettes and tobacco by pushing an alternative plan prohibiting only flavors that are “knowingly attractive to minors.” 

Public health advocates say many flavors are targeted toward enticing minors, while the industry argues that flavored e-cigarettes help cigarette smokers switch to vaping.

In other states, the vaping industry has supported T21 bills that include minimal penalties for retailers that sell to minors, or that fine clerks but not store owners for such violations, the Times reported.

According to the Times, Juul has 80 lobbyists in 50 states pushing pre-emption measures and fighting stricter youth vaping enforcement and flavored e-cigarette bans. In Arizona, Juul hired lobbyist Janna Day at the beginning of 2019. Prior to that, the company had never registered a lobbyist here.

Jeremy Duda
Associate Editor Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”


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