COLUMBIA, Mo. – Earlier this afternoon, Gov. Jay Nixon held a roundtable discussion in Columbia at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center at the University of Missouri Hospital on his veto of SB 841, which modifies provisions relating to alternative nicotine or vapor products.
“With the restriction for minors already on its way from the FDA, the real impact of Senate Bill 841 is that it would exempt e-cigarettes from Missouri’s tobacco laws,” Gov. Nixon said. “Until we know more about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes, creating new loopholes for these products would put public health at risk.”
Rep. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) handled the bill in the House and is hoping for an override.
“It is unfortunate that the Governor’s staff hasn’t bothered to research what actually makes up e-cigarettes and that, in fact, they contain no tobacco,” Rowden said. “So, the idea of taxing them as a tobacco product is fatally and factually flawed. It is also unfortunate for our state and our most vulnerable minors who this bill would protect that the Governor has bought into a far-left, extreme, rhetorical set of talking points instead of standing with the strong bipartisan majority in both the House and Senate that voted in favor of this bill in regular session. The FDA’s recently released ruling directly mirrors the language of this bill, which completely nullifies any supposed foundation opponents like the Governor had in speaking out against this bill. I will continue to fight for good policy that benefits Missourians.”
The American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, the Missouri State Medical Association, the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians, the Missouri Academy of Family Physicians, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Tobacco Free Missouri called on Gov. Nixon to veto Senate Bill 841, according to the governor’s office.
Rep. Kathie Conway (R-St. Charles) supports override and was among the 101 representatives who voted for the bill. Conway told The Missouri Times that she doesn’t think that the governor’s roundtable was framed to accurately portray the intent of the bill.
“I saw the Governor was going to be there and I thought, ‘This is not going to be a conversation about [the bill], this is the exemption,'” Conway said. “It’s my feeling that it is better to start here and keep it out of the hands of kids under 18. I’m beginning to think that the reason that they don’t want to do this one is because they are missing a taxing opportunity. They would rather let kids under the age of 18 get ahold of e-cigarettes than miss a tax opportunity.”
Organizations are falling on both sides of the issue.
“In politics, you should never let the desire for the perfect bill, which rarely happens, keep you from supporting a good bill which moves the issue forward and promotes positive change in a realistic and measured way,” said Ron Leone, executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. “MPCA strongly urges the legislature to override Governor Nixon’s veto of SB 841. Once this is done, Missourians can be assured that a meaningful step has been taken to ensure that children are prohibited from purchasing and using e-cigs.”
“Tobacco industry-sponsored electronic cigarette bills like these distract us from the evidence-based tobacco control policies we know work: comprehensive smoke-free air laws, increasing the price of tobacco products and well-funded cessation programs,” said Stacy Reliford, Missouri government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “ACS CAN and its partners will continue to advocate for these effective policies to reduce the burden of tobacco in our state.”
A statement from the governor’s office said that this past April, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new regulations to place e-cigarettes under the same restrictions as traditional tobacco products, including prohibiting the sale or marketing of e-cigarettes to minors, or advertising e-cigarettes on television.
Veto session is September 10.
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.