Georgia Vaping Bill Aims to Clarify Legal Products via Directory

Georgia vaping legislation bill

Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill that would establish a directory of vaping products allowed for sale in the state. Proponents argue the measure will provide clarity for businesses and aid in enforcement, while vape shop owners contend it could significantly harm their industry and remove products that help people quit smoking.

The Georgia Nicotine Vapor Products Directory Act

Rep. Houston Gaines, the Republican sponsor of House Bill 1260, says the legislation aims to bring order to what he describes as the “wild, Wild West” of Georgia’s vape marketplace. The bill, which passed the House and is now headed to the Senate, would create a registry of approved vaping products, set fines for violations, and establish inspection requirements.

Gaines and other supporters assert that the current lack of enforcement allows many popular products, often produced in China and designed to appeal to youth, to remain on shelves unchecked. They point to instances of young people becoming addicted after trying flavored vapes or being hospitalized due to fentanyl-laced products.

The concerns echo those of school and health officials who have noted the prevalence of youth vaping. Georgia schools reported an increase in vaping-related discipline incidents from 18,724 to 22,204 over the past two years, despite a national decline in youth e-cigarette use estimated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Youth Tobacco Survey.

Vape Shop Owners Voice Opposition

However, the bill has faced pushback from vape shop owners who argue it would severely impact their businesses by removing their most effective and popular products from shelves. Dillon Gilbert, owner of nine vape stores in Columbus and Savannah, testified in House committee meetings that the legislation “would be a death blow to our industry.”

Gilbert and other industry representatives contend that the FDA’s approval process, which the proposed directory would rely on, is backlogged and broken. They note that the few approved products are linked to major tobacco companies and contain higher nicotine concentrations than they would typically recommend to customers.

Gaines maintains that the bill does not make any currently legal products illegal, stating that the registry would include the 23 FDA-approved vaping products and those that can be marketed while awaiting approval. The FDA has targeted fruit- and candy-flavored products due to their popularity among youth.

Balancing Regulation and Industry Concerns

Vape shop owners warn that limiting product selection would not only lead to store closures but also drive people back to tobacco. They argue that the bill, intended to protect public health, could inadvertently undermine efforts to help smokers quit by reducing access to less harmful alternatives.

As the debate continues, Georgia legislators must grapple with the challenge of establishing effective regulations to address youth vaping concerns while considering the potential economic impact on the vaping industry and the role of these products in smoking cessation.

The Georgia Nicotine Vapor Products Directory Act now awaits consideration in the Senate, where lawmakers will have to weigh the competing interests and find a path forward that prioritizes public health while minimizing unintended consequences for businesses and individuals seeking to quit tobacco.

Matthew Ma