Vaping businesses in Louisiana are accusing JUUL of working against the interests of the small store owners by supporting a bill to up the minimum age to buy the products.
The Louisiana Vaping Association, which represents business owners, said JUUL, which produces e-cigarettes and nicotine liquid catridges wholesale, hired a lobbyist in the state to rally support to increase the age to 21 for all tobacco and nicotine products.
But HB 38, introduced by Rep. Frank Hoffmann (R-West Monroe), was rejected by 55-22 in the House, rejecting the sponsor's argument that the move would help reduce smoking.
Heather Hutton, president of the Louisiana Vaping Association (LAVA), said JUUL is lobbying for Tobaccol 21, the national campaign to increase the minimum age with “no regard to the impact the legislation would have on the small businesses, the states budgets, or the citizens rights they would be violating.”
Hutton said this was done to counter bad publicity nationally surrounding vaping products and teen use.
“HB 38 was pushed by the JUUL lobbyist as an effort to show face, not for the vapor industry but for themselves alone,” Hutton said.
“JUUL sent their lobbyist into our state, with no concern for the impact their actions would have on Louisiana small businesses.”
Hutton expressed the hope that Lousiana will be “an example for other states.”
And she added, “JUUL does not represent the entire industry, They do not represent the hundreds of responsible vape shops that will be directly effected by their bad policy.”
The business owner representative said HB 38 was a director violation of their rights and, because vapor products were included, a “hazard to public health.”
She added, “To limit an adults access to a safer alternative is not good policy, Thankfully our representatives recognized the issues with Tobacco 21 legislation and voted overwhelmingly in opposition to the bill.”