- Associated Press - Thursday, March 2, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Legislation that would ban the use of electronic cigarettes in most Arkansas restaurants and other businesses failed to clear a Senate committee.

The bill, which fell two votes short Wednesday, was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Eddie Cheatham, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/2miIrP5 ) reported. The legislation would have expanded the state’s indoor smoking ban to prohibit electronic cigarettes in the same places where smoking is banned.

Legislation passed in 2006 allows smoking in restaurants or bars that are open to customers ages 21 and up only. The law prohibits those businesses from employing people younger than 21 and requires them to display a sign warning customers that they’ll be exposed to secondhand smoke.

Arkansas Department of Health Director Nate Smith said “emerging evidence” shows the liquid used in the electronic cigarettes contains toxic substances. Smith said the devices also pose challenges for employers.

“It’s really impossible for them to know whether their employees are using nicotine or some other substance that may or may not be legal,” he said.

Republican Sen. Scott Flippo said business owners should be allowed to choose to have electronic-cigarette use. He said potential customers can decide whether they want to patronize those businesses.

“At a certain point on the path that we’re going, pretty soon Mountain Dew, Taco Bell … when is that theoretically going to be next?” Flippo asked.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com


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