-- Indiana’s problematic vaping law, which granted a monopoly to one company
and sparked an FBI probe, would be drastically overhauled under a measure
that a state Senate committee advanced Wednesday.
Very little of the
current law would be left standing under the bill by Sen. Randy Head, a
instituted a protectionist regime,” Head said of the bill, which was
advanced to the full Senate on an 8-1 committee vote. “That was something we
set out from the beginning to try and get rid of.”
GOP leaders pledged
this session to overhaul the law, which advocates say led companies to move
operations to nearby states.
But the bill as
currently written goes further. That’s because the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals in Chicago struck down a major portion of the law last month,
stating that it “looks very much like a legislative grant of a monopoly to
one favored in-state company in the security business.”
Under the bill, a
curtailed set of state regulations would apply to in-state manufacturers of
the nicotine-laced “e-liquid” consumed through vaping. They would be
required to get a state permit and follow U.S. Food and Drug Administration
rules. Manufacturers would also be required to use safety caps, include
batch numbers and place warning labels on packaging.
“The bill opens the
market back up,” said Evan McMahon, of the advocacy group Hoosier Vapers,
who says last year’s law dropped the number of in-state manufacturers from
60 to single-digits. “It will allow companies to come back home.”
First approved in
2015, Indiana’s vaping law was ostensibly designed to create “e-liquid”
safety standards. But changes made to it last year effectively gave a
Lafayette-based security firm, Mulhaupt’s Inc., sole discretion to decide
who could be certified to produce “e-liquid” sold in the state.
certified only a handful of producers And their application deadline for
companies seeking approval passed before former Gov. Mike Pence signed the
measure into law.
“We had people who
could do this safely and we told them ‘You’re not allowed to be in the
business,’” Head said.
The law guided
everything from requirements for sinks to the details of contracts with
outside security firms and the qualifications of those firms’ personnel.
Facilities had to be continuously monitored by video. And manufacturers
needed an assortment of security certifications that few U.S. companies, if
any, besides Mulhaupt’s were qualified to provide.
By summer, the FBI
was questioning a number of people connected to the law, including
legislators who were instrumental in its passage such as Republican Sen. Ron
Alting, who represents the district where Mulhaupt’s is based.
In a statement
issued Wednesday, Mulhaupt’s said “we respect the decision made by members
of the Senate Judiciary Committee” and pledged to “watch the legislative
the business of protecting Hoosier consumers very seriously. Any changes to
e-liquid laws should not put safety at risk,” the company said.
Chris Brown, the
owner of Evansville-based Cool Breeze Vapor, said he was happy with the
current bill, but frustrated that he had to move parts of his 20-employee
business across the Ohio River to Kentucky after he was refused a permit
“This whole thing
has pissed me off,” he said. “You have to move your whole company to another
state for no reason -- just for other people to make a lot of money.”