The state Senate Health and Human Services Committee met on Tuesday to discuss legislation restricting vaping inside enclosed public spaces.

The bill would require that vaping in restricted areas be considered a misdemeanor punishable through fines.

Senate Bill 47 would essentially update the codes of the Smoke-Free Air Act of 2005, which caters to cigarettes and other tobacco products, to reflect vaping products as well.

Under the Smoke Free Air Act of 2005, “A person smoking in violation of the law will be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not less than $100 and not more than $500.” The expectation for this bill is that it will follow the same procedures for individuals vaping in enclosed areas.

Republican Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, representing District 52, spoke before the committee as the sponsor. He explains the potential harms vaping products introduce to those exposed to it.

“They’ve got aerosol in them that has ultra fine particles and low levels of toxins that have been known to cause cancer,” Hufstetler said. “They can certainly exacerbate respiratory conditions like asthma and constrict arteries and have some health risk, and so people shouldn’t be expected to have to breathe these in, in a public space.”

The Department of Public Health urged lawmakers to update the Smoke-Free Air Act based on their work with vaping. In 2019, they discovered “42 cases of vaping-associated illness in Georgia, including 6 deaths.”

In addition to this bill, there is current legislation in the House to increase to rate of tax on consumable vaping products in Georgia.