House committee passes bill to keep vaping products out of kids' hands

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT) - The teen vaping epidemic is still on the rise, and now Kentucky lawmakers want to help put an end to it.

Wednesday, a House committee passed a bill that would put tighter regulations on vaping products.

The bill sponsor was quick to say this is not a ban on vaping products. It is intended to keep them out of the hands of young people.

Some educators testified that in some schools dozens of kids, mostly in middle school, have been caught with vaping products.

Health officials said vaping products can be very dangerous for kids. Exposure to nicotine can cause long-lasting problems, increased blood pressure and even brain problems. They said the devices themselves are also dangerous - one pod is the nicotine equivalent of 20 cigarettes.

"We documented 148 vaping incidents. Last year in the same amount of time, that number was 92," said Abby Piper with Jefferson County Public Schools.

Others testified that while they are in favor of keeping vaping products away from kids, they feel their industry is under attack.

"The vape shops are not trying to addict younger generations. Vaping shops have continually shown, even when 'T-21' was signed, we turned to T-21 the day it was signed. We didn't wait for the six-month compliance period," said Troy Leblanc with the Kentucky Smoke-Free Association.

House Bill 69 requires vaping retailers to register with the state ABC, pay fees, and mandates no sales to anyone under 18. It passed the committee 16-0 with one lawmaker abstaining.

If passed, the bill would set up a $100 fine for minors caught buying or attempting to buy vaping products.