Illinois lawmakers hope bill can remove illegal vaping products from gas

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) — The Illinois House could soon pass a plan to help law enforcement and retailers keep electronic cigarettes away from young people. Sponsors told WAND News that Illinois must hold bad actors accountable for bringing illegal and potentially dangerous vaping products to retail stores.

If you walk up to the checkout counter in most gas stations, convenience stores or smoke shops in Illinois, you can likely see a wide variety of vaping products for sale.

There are roughly 300 vaping products approved by the FDA, but state lawmakers and advocates have seen a significant rise in unregulated products hitting the shelves.

“What type of products are they selling,” asked Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island). “You know? When you start looking at these different products, they’re geared towards younger kids. As you dug deeper into it, a lot of these products are illegal that are being sold.”

For example, you could buy a blueberry banana vaping device made by Breeze. There are many Breeze vaping products people could buy from Illinois retailers, but they are not approved by the FDA.

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That’s why Rita is working with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and the Illinois Fuel & Retail Association to stop these products from reaching stores.

“There’s tens of thousands of products in this space,” said Josh Sharp, CEO of the Illinois Fuel & Retail Association. “It’s very difficult for retailers without the assistance of a distributor to sort through those product channels and figure out the products that should and shouldn’t be there.”

House Bill 5069 could require vaping manufacturers to provide product certifications to retail stores to ensure the vaping products meet safety standards set by the state and federal government. 

Rita said this change would be critical, as many teenagers are getting their hands on vaping products that have been rejected by the FDA or never went through safety checks.

“If you’re selling legal products today, this is something that will help you to make sure that you are good,” Rita explained.

E-cig manufacturers would also be banned from providing false or misleading statements for certification to distributors or retailers. The legislation states that distributors and retail stores should not be held liable for false statements submitted by the vaping manufacturers.

“If you’re a distributor of tobacco or a vaping product, go back to your manufacturer and double check on the paperwork,” Sharp said. “Do they have what they need to have from the FDA to be able to make this product and sell it here? If the answer is no, they shouldn’t distribute it.”

House Bill 5069 passed unanimously out of the House Executive Committee last week. Rita has 15 co-sponsors for the proposal and hopes House leadership will call it for a vote on 3rd reading when lawmakers return next week.

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