Gov. Nixon urges legislature to uphold e-cigarette veto

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COLUMBIA - Governor Jay Nixon met with health care professionals Wednesday to talk about a bill that would exempt electronic cigarettes from the same regulations and taxes as traditional cigarettes.

Stacy Reliford with the American Cancer Society said the bill started out as an effort to keep e-cigarettes from minors. However, she said language was added to the bill that could be detrimental to public health.

"It's good intention but not good public policy," Reliford said. 

Under the bill, e-cigarettes would not be defined as "tobacco products," despite the fact that many contain nicotine derived from tobacco.

The vapor cigarettes are currently not subject to tobacco regulations or taxes, and the bill would ensure these regulations would not be imposed on e-cigarettes in Missouri. 

In April, the FDA proposed expanding tobacco regulations to include e-cigarettes.

James O'Shea, manager of an e-cigarette shop in Columbia, said he thinks the bill is a good idea since it would keep e-cigarettes away from people under 18.

"I used e-cigarettes to stop smoking," he said. "While it still probably isn't beneficial to your health, I think it's a better alternative."

Dr. Lucas Buffaloe said he has several patients who have told him they were using e-cigarettes to quite smoking or as a "safer" alternative.

"We don't know whether it's safer. We just don't have enough information," Buffaloe said. 

Nixon vetoed the bill less than a month ago, but the law could still go into effect if legislators vote to override the veto next Wednesday during the annual Veto Session.

See Gov. Nixon's veto letter.

See the bill.