Vape sales would be sharply limited under new legislation

Vaping products could be a lot harder to find in Connecticut under new legislation at the state Capitol. The bill would limit sales to licensed "adults only" smoke shops that could only admit customers 21 years and older. The change would take effect in June of 2023.

John Craven

Apr 22, 2022, 9:20 PM

Updated 819 days ago

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Vaping products could be a lot harder to find in Connecticut under new legislation at the state Capitol. The bill would limit sales to licensed "adults only" smoke shops that could only admit customers 21 years and older. The change would take effect in June of 2023.
The bill replaces an earlier version that would have banned flavored e-cigarettes but kept tobacco-flavored vapes in thousands of grocery stores and gas stations. Under the new language, licensed smoke shops could still stock flavors.
On Friday, the legislature's Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee adopted the last-minute change. Co-chair Sen. John Fonfara (D-Hartford) proposed it, arguing an outright ban on flavored vape products could lead to a black market.
He and other lawmakers also said adults should still have a legal alternative to cigarettes.
"You're saying, 'OK, we're going to put money to try to help people, but the product that helps people, we're going to ban,'" said state Rep. Joe Polletta (R-Watertown).
But others argued that if flavored vape pens stay on the market -- even at limited retailers – kids will find them.
"It's about 1 out of 4 high school students is now using the vaping, and the attraction to them is, quite frankly, the flavors,'" said state Rep. Mary Mushinsky (D-Wallingford).
The new bill also removes a to 35 mg/mL cap on the amount of nicotine in vapes, concerning many lawmakers.
"If you're going to end up having more nicotine than a regular cigarette in a vaping device, how does that help you quit?" asked state Rep. Eleni Kavros DeGraw (D-Avon).
Fonfara's eleventh-hour amendment caught many lawmakers off guard. Twenty finance committee members weren't even present to vote on it, which would have likely changed the outcome.
"I generally see both sides of this, and I truly am torn," said state Rep. Sean Scanlon, who quit smoking five years ago. "It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life."
Scanlon split with his co-chair and voted against making the change, but later voted to advance the new legislation to the full state Senate.
It's unclear if the vaping bill will get a final vote. The General Assembly adjourns in less than two weeks, and similar legislation has run out of time in previous years.


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