Debate Underway At State Capitol Over E-Cigarette Regulation

Monday, April 29th 2013, 5:29 pm

There is a battle at the Capitol between big tobacco and those e-cigarettes used to help people quit smoking. The proposed law would regulate those vapor cigarettes and that has a lot people concerned.

The main concern from e-cig retailers was the bill would classify them as a tobacco product, even though their business is to get people off of tobacco products. Monday afternoon, the lawmaker who wrote the bill says he is changing that.

3/17/2013 Related Story: E-Cigarette Users Upset Over Proposed Bill To Regulate Sales

Even on a Monday morning, OKC Vapes is a busy place. Filled with people looking to extinguish their smoking habit.

"I'm 63 and I started smoking when I was 13 years old. Sad but true," said Mary Drinkwater. "After 50 years I haven't had a cigarette in 16 days, I'm so proud of myself I really am."

Owner John Durst started the store, after he used vapor cigarettes to stop smoking. He believes big tobacco companies are behind the bill, that would regulate age and taxes for those selling e-cigarettes.

"In doing that they have to categorize us as a tobacco product, and we don't want that," Durst said.

"This is a bill that is actually trying to get people to quit smoking and not punish them if they do," counters Sen. Rob Johnson (R ) Oklahoma City who wrote the bill.

Sen. Johnson says after hearing from the owners like Durst he has since changed that language.

"The language has gone back and forth if they are a tobacco product or if they are not a tobacco product. The latest version that I have says they are not a tobacco product," Sen. Johnson said.

Durst says only once that change becomes official will he breathe a little easier.

Johnson says, the state's biggest tobacco company: Altria, formerly Phillip Morris is against the bill.