ATLANTA — State legislators considering restrictions on vaping products met Tuesday at the state Capitol in Atlanta.
Taking input from the public, Georgia lawmakers heard from doctors and students who said that e-cigarette use is prevalent among children and poses serious risks to their health.
A pending bill would raise the minimum age to purchase vaping products in Georgia from 18 to 21, increase penalties for selling them to minors and restrict packaging that appeals to young people.
It would also require schools to teach students about the dangers of vaping. The bill is written to "require local boards of education to prescribe mandatory instruction and a minimum course of study concerning the dangers of smoking and vaping; to provide for the implementation of such course of study."
The state Senate bill, S.B. 298, was introduced by Gwinnett County Republican Renee Unterman.
"I’m proud to follow @realdonaldtrump’s lead in protecting minors from the harmful effects associated with vaping products," Unterman wrote on Twitter when she introduced the bill. "By putting safety nets in place and prohibiting deceptive advertising, we will make communities healthier & keep GA’s children safe."
Advocates for the e-cigarette industry say vaping products save lives by helping smokers quit.
The federal government has already imposed new restrictions on vaping, following an outbreak of a lung illness last year that was broadly suspected to be linked to unauthorized street versions of vaping products that included THC.
In December, the Food and Drug Administration raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. And earlier this month, the Trump administration announced it would ban most flavored e-cigarettes that have been particularly popular with teenagers.
The ban includes fruit, candy, mint and dessert flavors from small, cartridge-based e-cigarettes that are popular with high school students.
“As we work to combat the troubling epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, the enforcement policy we’re issuing today confirms our commitment to dramatically limit children’s access to certain flavored e-cigarette products we know are so appealing to them – so-called cartridge-based products that are both easy to use and easily concealable," FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn said in a statement. "We will continue to use our full regulatory authority thoughtfully and thoroughly to tackle this alarming crisis that’s affecting children, families, schools and communities."