SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – California lawmakers are joining the battle to regulate electronic cigarettes, but the California Department of Public Health is against the proposal, saying it “may serve more as marketing for e-cigarettes.”

Senate Bill 538 would require all manufacturers selling e-cigarettes in the state to send a written physical description and a picture of each type to the State Department of Public Health by April 1, 2020. Three months later, on July 1, the Department of Public Health would need to post every picture and description on its website and coordinate with the Department of Education on getting that information into the hands of school administrators.

The Department of Public Health would impose a fee on e-cigarette manufacturers to cover the cost.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, since 2017 the number of high school students who admit to using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days increased 75 percent to approximately three million teens. The bill states:

“An increasing number of electronic cigarettes are developed to resemble otherwise innocuous items, such as USB flash drives or pens. This makes it difficult for parents and educators to identify these electronic cigarettes when they are used by pupils.”

California already has a law banning the sale of nicotine products to people under age 21. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 90 percent of smokers in the United States starting smoking before they turned 18, and 98 percent started by age 26.

SB 538 is supported by a number of groups, including the California Medical Association and Kaiser Permanente. The California Department of Public Health wrote in opposition:

“DPH opposes this bill because of concerns that posting descriptions and photographs of e-cigarettes on its Web site and notifying school entities does not directly address the state‚Äôs youth use of ecigarettes epidemic. DPH states that posting the information may serve more as marketing for e-cigarettes and provide public health legitimacy to e-cigarettes. DPH also states that it would not be able to maintain updated information of an
ever-changing e-cigarette market. DPH further states that this bill does not include an incentive, such as penalties or license suspension or revocation, for manufacturers to comply with the provisions in this bill.”

The bill passed the Assembly unanimously Tuesday and now goes back to the Senate for a final vote. If it passes it will go to Governor Newsom to sign or veto.

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