Some lawmakers say state could consider stronger vaping rules

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Right now, it’s up to Kansas businesses to allow or not allow vaping.

“Oh, we just don’t allow it,” said Brian, a manager at Knolla’s Pizza in West Wichita. “It should be treated just like smoking. We just don’t know what’s in it.”

Brian says it’s common sense to treat vaping like smoking.

But some lawmakers want to consider tougher regulations for vaping on a statewide level. Right now, you have to be 18 to buy vape products.

“We left that up to individuals and businesses,” said Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita. “Certainly, we should prevent children. We know it hurts. Someone in Kansas just died as a result of vaping. We know that it’s addictive and what that means is you need more hits and you need more powerful hits just like any other drug.”

Ward says there could be an appetite for vaping restrictions in both the House and Senate this year.

The state has taken on revenue from vaping. Right now, the state collects five cents for every one millimeter of vape liquid sold.

Some restaurant owners say it’s too soon to say what vaping can do to your health, so banning it in the store was an easy call.

“We don’t really know what’s in it or the health problems,” says Brian with Knolla’s. “Like, we know what smoking does already, but we don’t know what long-term vaping does or second hand does or anything else so I wouldn’t want to expose anyone to it just in case.”

Sedgwick County does not allow vaping in county owned buildings. Wichita does not allow smoking in public buildings. And right now, the City of Wichita is considering a ban on tobacco-related products in parks.

Ward says there remains a strong chance lawmakers will act on some level in the next session.

“Relatively new phenomena over the last five or so years, so the health consequences we are learning,” said Ward. “We should take steps to protect children and make sure adults know what they are doing when they are ecigaretting and vaping.”

Ward does not have any regulations in mind but says the priority should be protecting kids from getting the products. He also says lawmakers will be interested in putting in statutes to punish those who provide vaping materials to kids.

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