Rowden Bill Favors Big Tobacco in Latest Move to Squeeze Money from Small Businesses

As the legislature works to balance the budget in the final few days of session, lawmakers are setting their eyes on regulating e-cigarettes and vapor products. Recently assigned to committee, Senate Bill 1085 (Senator Caleb Rowden-R) would require vapor manufacturers to register their products with the state – after already registering with the federal government. Worse, the legislation adds a licensing fee for each and every vape product, up to $500 per product, in order to maintain the newly created state registry.

The legislation comes after a barrage of misinformation about youth e-cigarette use and unrelated marijuana vaping-related lung injuries that dominated media headlines prior to America’s COVID-19 epidemic. Lawmakers’ intentions are in the right place, but similar to other vaping proposals in other states, this legislation is another whack-a-mole attempt to solve problems that aren’t really problems at all and will have dire unintended consequences for small businesses in Missouri.

According to data from the 2019 Missouri Youth Risk Behavior Survey a large percentage of Missouri youth are not vaping. In fact, in 2019, nearly 80 percent of Missouri kids did not use an e-cigarette in the 30 days prior to being surveyed.

Lawmakers should know that regulating legal e-cigarettes and vapor products is unlikely to impact vaping-related hospitalizations as these have been overwhelmingly linked to the use of illicit products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Often, these products are bought from black market sources and contain unknown ingredients.

In December 2019, over $1 million worth of THC vaping cartridges was seized by authorities in Cooper County. Missouri law enforcement have also seized large amounts of THC vaping cartridges in March and September of 2019.

While the proposed legislation is unlikely to address youth e-cigarette use and vaping-related lung illnesses, it will, however, snuff out thousands of small businesses in the Show-Me State and allow Big Tobacco to reign supreme with cancer causing cigarettes.

The proposed licensing fee would minimally impact large players such as JUUL. For example, JUUL offers two flavors, available in two different nicotine strengths. Under the proposed legislation, JUUL would be subject to a licensing fee of only $2,000. A small mom-and-pop manufacturer with a line of 20 flavors, all available in three different nicotine strengths, would be subject to a $30,000 licensing fee.

Missouri’s registry would be after vapor product manufacturers register their products with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), via a premarket tobacco application (PMTA). This arduous process will be time consuming and expensive. FDA estimates each PMTA will cost $330,000. It’s unseemly that conservative lawmakers would try and squeeze more money out of Missourians for a duplicate registry.

Further, there is no guarantee that the licensing fees will amount to enough funding to run the state registry. It is likely many small vapor manufacturers will be unable to afford the associated costs and close shop. Given that Missouri is required by law to have a balanced budget, the proposed legislation doesn’t add up. The obvious question is: why should Missouri pony up funds to enforce federal laws?

Senate Bill 1085 is a gift-wrapped present to Big Tobacco by conservative lawmakers and it would have devastating effects on the availability of much safer alternatives for adults. The legislation will shutter small businesses across the Show-Me State at a time when small businesses are suffering. Lawmakers should overwhelmingly reject this terrible legislation.


A.J. Moll, from St. Louis, heads up Missouri Smoke Free, a not-for-profit (501c4) tobacco harm reduction organization working to create a healthier Missouri.

Lindsey Stroud ( is the creator and manager of Tobacco Harm Reduction 101 (, a website that provides analysis and insight on tobacco and vapor products.


Cancer Society: Smokeless Tobacco & Vaping Safer Than Smoking

The American Cancer Society Updates Policy On Smokeless Tobacco and Vaping, But Comes up Short on Legislative Recommendations.  Full report Here

In a new tobacco policy framework released June 11, 2018, The American Cancer Society recognizes that the myriad of death and disease from tobacco comes primarily from combustible tobacco.  And, the ACS recognizes that the public fails to recognize that smoke less products are safer than continuing to smoke.  The ACS writes, “ACS will provide smokers and the public with clear and accurate information available on the absolute and relative health impact of combustible tobacco products, nicotine‐based medications, ENDS and other novel tobacco products.78 In partnership with others, ACS will increase its efforts to guide smokers toward evidence‐based cessation options that enable them to quit as quickly as possible and eliminate their exposure to combustible tobacco smoke. At the same time, ACS will deliver a clear and vital message: All smokers should cease combustible tobacco use as soon as possible and ACS will aid them in achieving that goal.”  (bold text added for emphasis by MSF.)

Missouri Smoke Free believes that  it’s great that ACS has finally recognized that smokeless tobacco products are safer than smoking. However, the reality is the American Cancer Society’s lobbying arm ACS-CAN (Cancer action network) will still pursue inappropriate legislative goals in light of their new findings.  ACS states that ACS-CAN  will continue to advocate for:

  • Tobacco 21 which raises the age of all tobacco products to a purchase age of 21. We find this frustrating given that the majority of smokers start smoking before the age of 18.  Moving the purchase price of reduced harm products to 21 will delay quit attempts by young adults.
  • Indoor Smoke Free Air Acts The ACS-CAN will continue to misinform policy makers that vapor products should be lumped in with smoke free air laws. We disagree with this policy as the vapor produced by e-cigarettes warrants no concern to bystanders.  Allowing private business owners to set their own indoor vaping policy will provide an incentive to smokers wishing to transition to non combustible products.

While we applaud The American Cancer Society for publicly recognizing that smokers who cannot quit should switch to safer smoke free nicotine alternatives and smokeless tobacco,  In good faith we cannot give an endorsement based on their continued poor legislative pursuits.