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House panel OKs proposal to list tobacco ingredients

Rep. Jordan Tanner is slowly perfecting his righteous indignation demeanor, trying not to overreact.

But he was tested Monday - trying to keep his cool - just before his bill requiring tobacco companies to list ingredients in their products passed the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee.He listened to tobacco company representatives say his bill isn't needed (tobacco ingredients are available to consumers in a number of forms) and small-business owners say it could harm their sales and the state's revenues (one retail store owner said it could cost the state $500,000 a year in sales and tobacco taxes from his operation alone).

But Tanner said the Utah Legislature should strongly control an industry "whose aim it is to kill" its clients.

Rep. Dan Tuttle, D-Magna, said he fails to see how kids will stop smoking from putting "a piece of paper" outlining tobacco's ingredients next "to the coupons you tear off" to get a discount.

Rep. James Gowans, D-Tooele, said he wonders how long it will be before the Legislature goes after other legal agricultural products by making their producers list their ingredients too.

"Unless you've lived in a cave for 30 years" you know tobacco use and smoking can kill you, said Rep. Mary Carlson, D-Salt Lake.

Wouldn't it be better to use the estimated $5,000 that Tanner's bill would cost to fight teen smoking in some other way? she asked.

Gordon Lindsey of the Coalition For a Tobacco-Free Utah, said he believes the small-business owner who testified against the bill: "Just like I believe the tobacco industry when they say they are targeting out kids (with advertising), just like I believe when they say nicotine isn't addictive, just like I believe them when they say tobacco use is not harmful to your health."

Tanner's bill passed to the House floor, with four committee members voting no, and will be debated by the body as a whole.