R.I. Governor Chafee vetoes e-cigarette ban for those under 18

PROVIDENCE — Governor Chafee has vetoed legislation prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 from purchasing e-cigarettes and other “vapor products” that heat liquid nicotine into a smokable vapor.
The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and other health advocacy groups, had called on Chafee to veto the measure.
They said the bill represented a “stalking horse” for tobacco and e-cigarette companies that want to exempt the growing industry from the regulations and taxes imposed on traditional tobacco-based products.
They also warned that federal regulators are still studying the potential health risks of the relatively new technology .
Introduced by Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio, D-North Providence, the bill would have defined e-cigarettes and other related products as “vapor products.”
Nine states, including Vermont and New Hampshire, have simply included them in their definition of “tobacco products.”
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, which is set to roll out its own e-cigarette line, VUSE, later this year, had strongly advocated for the bill and dozens like it in other states.
In his veto message, Chafee said, “The sale of electronic cigarettes to children should be prohibited, but it is counter-productive to prohibit sales to children while simultaneously exempting electronic cigarettes from laws concerning regulation, enforcement, licensing or taxation.
“As a matter of public policy, electronic cigarette laws should mirror tobacco product laws, not circumvent them,” Chafee said.
Other bills vetoed by Chafee on Wednesday would have let municipalities raise taxes on low-income, government-subsidized housing, and increased required public-reporting by the state’s quasi-public agencies.
Chafee did not heed all calls for a veto.
For example, he rejected pleas from the state’s auto insurers to veto a bill telling them when they can — and cannot — declare a damaged vehicle a total loss, that was a priority of the state’s politically connected auto-body shop industry. (Leading the industry’s fight again this year was the sister/law partner of the former senior deputy majority leader in the House.)
Sponsored by Rep. Arthur Corvese, D-North Providence, the new law prohibits an insurer from declaring a motor vehicle a total loss if the cost to restore the vehicle is less than 75 percent of its “fair market value” before it was damaged. The only exception would be if the owner gives the OK to say the vehicle is totaled.