House Approves Hookah and E-Cigarette Ban

(KCPW News)  A bill that would place hookah and e-cigarettes under the restrictions of the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act, with exemptions carved out for existing businesses, passed the Utah House of Representatives Tuesday, but not without several failed attempts to substitute a new bill. Republican Representative Paul Ray proposed to ban use of the devices in public altogether.

“We’ve never given exemption on the Indoor Clean Air Act and I’m not comfortable starting now exempting certain businesses from the Indoor Clean Air Act,” said Ray.  “Everybody falls under it and I think it’s bad policy to say ‘OK, everybody over here has to apply this but you guys are special, you don’t have to.’  I just think it’s a bad decision to go backwards on it.”

Another failed substitute sponsored by Democratic Representative Brian Doughty would have left the exemptions in place, but removed a sunset date in 2017 that forces the legislature to reconsider the law.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Brad Last, said he realizes it isn’t popular, but something must be done.

“Just realize that if we don’t do anything that local governments, and our transportation entities, and other public establishments can’t stop people from using these products or items in their public locations,” said Last.

House Bill 245 passed on a vote of 42 to 31, and will now be considered by the Senate.