Missouri's House and Senate both endorsed proposals Thursday morning to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to people under 18.
Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, is sponsoring the House version, which would ban the sale of e-cigarettes, vapor pens and other alternative nicotine products to minors. It would also outlaw their possession on public school property. Rowden's measure drew some opposition over a clause that bars the state from taxing or regulating e-cigarettes the same way it does regular tobacco products. That language was absent from Rowden's original bill. Rep. Jill Schupp, D-St. Louis, accused Rowden of bowing to the interests of large tobacco companies.
"What it does is precludes us, shuts the door," she said "Why would we shut the door on regulating this as a tobacco product?"
Rowden has said he included the provision to keep lawmakers from balking at his proposal. He asked lawmakers Thursday not to let the clause get in the way of the bill.
"This does nothing to restrict our ability to come back in future years and regulate additionally, tax additionally once the FDA makes whatever ruling they want to make," he said.
The Senate version contains the same langauge as Rowden's bill, including the clause in question. Both chambers will now consider each other's proposals.