Advocates for more regulation of electronic cigarettes say that lobbyists for big tobacco companies are now heavily involved in the debate, and are blocking new regulations.
The Coalition for Tobacco Free Hawaii and other health organizations thought they were on the verge of victory, after both House and Senate supported restricting where e-cigarettes can be smoked. But then, the advocates say, lobbyists for large tobacco companies prevailed on House Speaker Joe Souki, to halt progress with a deadline looming Friday.
"There's been a lot of lobbying going on and so I definitely think big tobacco plays a role in it," said Jessica Yamauchi, Executive Director of the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii
Souki has so far refused to appoint members to the conference committee that would work out differences between the House and Senate bills. Souki told Hawaii News Now that he still may appoint conferees in time for a Friday deadline, despite his reservations about the proposals.