For almost 200 years, Kentucky’s top cash crop has been tobacco, but Louisville tends to march to the beat of its own drummer. The State General Assembly has tried to ban public smoking on five different occasions in the past several years, but the capital city was successful in passing a citywide ordinance almost eight years ago. Now, Louisville politicians are going after the vaping community, as well.
House Bill 145 would essentially be an addendum to the old law that would also include e-cigs, vaping, and hookah devices in the public ban. The reasoning stated in the proposed legislation is that second-hand vapor is dangerous to public health. Of course, there are reams of scientific data to disprove this point. But with the backing of the Governor and such high-profile anti-vaping organizations as the American Heart Association, Louisville vape shop owners may not stand a chance.
"It's time to accept modern medicine and science," Gov. Steve Beshear told lawmakers in his final State of the Commonwealth address Tuesday. "It's time to protect our children and our workers from exposure."
Will private shops be exempt from the Louisville vaping ban?
If House Bill 145 passes the state legislature as currently written, then it will be illegal to vape in vape shops...believe it or not. The FDA has already made it illegal for employees to give away free samples of e-liquid and to assist customers with building coils and upgrading technology. Now the Louisville government want to take things one step further.
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Troy LeBlanc, vape shop owner and founder of the Kentucky Smoke-Free Association, believes House Bill 145 is threatening public health rather than protecting it. In his eyes, vaping saves lives by helping people to quit smoking.
“We just crossed the threshold of $5-billion dollars a year and for something to get that much, that many sales in such a short amount of time to hit that benchmark, shows you that it really does work,” LeBlanc stated in an interview with WHAS Channel 11 News. “A lot of our customers come in, and they find a flavor that's tailored to them by tasting it in the store, so I really don't want this law to come into effect, but if it were to come into effect I at least would like a pass for electronic cigarette stores.”
But Kentucky Representatives Dr. David Watkins (D-Henderson) and Susan Westrom (D-Lexington), co-sponsors of the bill, are not being swayed by LeBlanc’s rather logical argument. If House Bill 145 passes, then the Kentucky State Police will be required to enforce the new regulations. Repeat offenders could receive a $250 fine while vape shops allowing indoor vaping could receive a financial penalty up to $2500 per offense.
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