• April 16, 2024

Cherry Crush

 Cherry Crush

Photo: Andrey Kurguzov | Dreamstime.com

Several bills at the local, state and federal levels of government aim to ban all flavors in vapor products.

By Timothy S. Donahue

The fight never ends. The fight for flavors in the vapor industry has battlegrounds at every level of government. Currently, at least five U.S. cities have proposed bans on flavors for vapor products: Sacramento; New York City; Chicago and Baltimore, according to the Vapor Technology Association (VTA), a vapor advocacy group. Suffolk County, New York, is also considering a ban.

There are at least eight U.S. states that have or intend to propose vapor flavor bans: California, Massachusetts, North Dakota, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Hawaii and New Mexico. However, there is one bill currently in the U.S. House of Representatives that could eliminate all flavors in vapor products everywhere: the Youth Vaping Prevention Act of 2019 (H.R. 293).

Introduced by Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro on Jan. 8, H.R. 293 would ban the sale of all e-liquid flavors other than tobacco. The bill specifically references any constituent, additive, artificial or natural flavor (other than tobacco flavor), or an herb or spice “(including menthol, strawberry, grape, orange, clove, cinnamon, pineapple, vanilla, coconut, licorice, cocoa, chocolate, cherry and coffee) that is a characterizing flavor of the tobacco product, tobacco smoke or aerosol emitted from the product.”

The bill would also ban flavors in all vapor products even if the product does not contain nicotine. H.R. 293 defines e-cigarettes and electronic nicotine-delivery systems (ENDS) as “any electronic device that delivers nicotine, flavor or other substance via an aerosolized solution (including an electronic cigarette, cigar, pipe or hookah) to the user inhaling from the device (including any component, liquid, part or accessory of such a device, whether or not sold separately).”

However, the bill would allow for flavors if an ENDS is “approved by the [U.S.] Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for sale as a tobacco cessation product or for another therapeutic purpose and is marketed and sold solely for a purpose approved as [just] described.”

DeLauro serves in the Democratic leadership as co-chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and she is a ranking member on the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, where she oversees U.S. investments in education, health and employment, according to www.delauro.house.gov. Currently, H.R. 293 has no co-sponsors.

“The New England Journal of Medicine just reported that e-cigarettes are twice as effective as FDA-approved products in helping smokers quit smoking,” said Tony Abboud, executive director of the VTA. “Banning flavored vapor products, which are both 95 percent safer than cigarettes and a more effective tool for quitting, simply cannot be the answer for anyone committed to ending the death and disease associated with combustible tobacco. Congress should allow [the] FDA to follow the science: Flavored vapor products help adults quit deadly cigarettes.”

The VTA is also fighting the flavor ban bills in state and local governments. “Thanks to our growing network of state associations and VTA’s massive commitment of resources, our industry now has lobbying representation on the ground in almost 40 states,” says Abboud. “Our industry has dealt with an onslaught of legislation over the past two years. We’re taking on the most important issues, including those bills that present an existential threat to our industry, such as the over-taxation of vapor products and flavor bans, while we are focusing legislators on crafting responsible regulation to save our industry.”

As of this writing, H.R. 293 has been referred to the Committee on Ways and Means in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, as well as the Committee on Energy and Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the speaker of the house to be sent to the House floor for a vote. It would then have to pass the U.S. Senate before being signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Timothy S. Donahue

Timothy S. Donahue