Lawmakers hear testimony for and against flavored tobacco ban proposal

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– Supporters and opponents of a bill that would ban the sale of flavored vaping products in Illinois was discussed in committee Tuesday.

Retailers with money on the line are against the measure but law enforcement stepped forward too, asking lawmakers to pump the brakes on this bill.

“We want to make sure we get out a message when we see these bad policies being passed to make sure people are informed of what we consider the unintended consequences of bad policy,” said John Dixon III, Past President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

During Tuesday’s Senate executive committee hearing, Dixon painted a picture from the perspective of law enforcement of what could happen if the ban takes effect. Saying it would only heighten an already active black market.

“When you put something in place that says people can’t get it, they’re going to figure out ways to get it. And all of the ways they get it are not going to be regulatory ways. There won’t be any oversight or age any restriction associated with it. When they decide to push these products out here, it’s going to be worst than it is now,” Dixon said.

On top of increased black market sales, officers said the ban could create tension between minority communities and police.

“85 percent of black people who smoke, smoke menthol cigarettes. So when you restrict that you are giving the police a precursor to be able to approach our youth, and talk about: ‘Where’s that cigarette? Where’d you get that cigarette from?’ You know, that disproportionate contact is going to create a problem,” Dixon said.

After being on edge for the past few months, vaping advocates took a sigh of relief as lawmakers listened to their reasons for opposing the proposal.

While supporters of the bill say vaping flavors is a gateway for young people to get ahold of other drugs, advocates said a ban would not stop the issue of young people using flavored items, they argue it would only limit adult choice.

Lawmakers did not vote on the bill. They said the want to work on the language a bit more to make sure it accomplishes the goal of keeping the products away from kids.

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