LANSING — State Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids) introduced her first bill last week to increase funding for the state’s School Aid and Healthy Michigan funds by amending the existing Tobacco Products Tax Act to include electronic smoking devices like e-cigarettes and vape pens. Under Hood’s House Bill 4188, electronic smoking devices would be treated the same as cigars, loose tobacco and smokeless tobacco products.

“E-cigarettes are quickly becoming a growing public health concern in our communities due to their marketing toward young people,” Hood said. “This bill is one step toward holding the e-cigarette industry accountable to the same standards as existing tobacco companies, while also providing much-needed resources to strengthen our schools and support a healthy Michigan.”

A new study by the CDC has revealed the number of high school students using tobacco products had risen by 38 percent, largely due to the growing popularity of electronic smoking device usage. Under Hood’s legislation, additional state revenue would provide resources to support Michigan schools in addition to funding cancer prevention, working to reduce tobacco use rates and strengthening cardiovascular health initiatives. Products approved by the Food and Drug Administration to help limit or cease tobacco use would remain exempt from the tax.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Regulation Reform.