Blowing smoke over state’s vaping strife

(Fort Wayne) News-Sentinal

Indiana’s vaping legislation scandal — and that is the right word — just keeps getting uglier.

The law requires, among other things, that in order to secure the five-year permit required to sell their products in Indiana, e-liquid manufacturers must work with an independent security firm that inspects their products. Because of the requirements the law puts on security firms, only one in the whole country qualifies, and it just happens to be in Lafayette, represented by state Sen. Ron Alting, who championed the law.

When last we spoke, a federal judge had ruled against the law, saying it “substantially burdened” interstate commerce, and the FBI was probing potential criminal conduct. Now we’re learning that a lawmaker who supported legislation has taken a job with that Lafayette company.

And get this: That lawmaker, State Rep. Alan Morrison, R-Terre Haute, says he sees no conflict of interest in his taking a job with that business. Really? You vote for legislation that gives one company a monopoly, and then take a job with that company, and you see no conflict of interest?

Certainly when our legislators are part-time and have to have other means of employment, we should expect a some conflicts of interest. But as David Orentlicher, a former legislator and professor at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law, says, Morrison’s new position and how he acquired it is “absolutely troubling.” This situation, he says, goes “beyond what we have to accept.”

It is clear from the actions of both the state and federal governments that the goal is to kill vaping in a way that puts a lot of money into public coffers from companies before the industry bites the dust.

This, at a time when the scientific evidence is growing that e-cigarettes are the most effective quit-smoking aid out there because, unlike nicotine chewing gum and patches, they mimic the experience of cigarette smoking because they are hand-held and generate a smoke-like vapor. According to two new studies, electronic cigarettes may have helped about 18,000 people in England to give up smoking last year and there is no evidence of any serious side effects associated with their use for up to two years.

Indiana legislators say they are going to look into how our vaping legislation came into being. They might also consider why we need it in the first place.

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