The debate surrounding electronic cigarettes continues to heat up on a national level, with the main focus on youth vaping. According to statistics from a joint report from the CDC and FDA, there has been a 78 percent increase among high school students who use e-cigarettes. As a result, proposed bills for addressing youth vaping have been coming out of the woodwork, including new age restrictions proposed state by state with the Tobacco 21 campaign. Up next is a new bill, titled “Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act”, which is sponsored by 2 high level Democrats: Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Rep. Donna Shalala of Florida.
Some major pieces of this bill include raising the minimum age for purchasing vaping products to 21, banning all flavored vapor products, and prohibiting online sales of all vaping products. Unfortunately for the vapor industry, the bill is heavily favored by all major anti-vaping and tobacco control groups in Washington.
Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act
The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act is taking a firm stance on vapor products and their appeal to youth and potential for tobacco and nicotine addiction among underage kids. The bill’s sponsors state that the main goal of the bill is to limit the appeal and access to underage youth, while also reducing the number of youth who currently use e-cigarettes and tobacco products.
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While the bill’s language will also affect the sale of cigarettes and cigars, it’s main focus is on vaping products. If passed, the bill would include several new regulations:
- The extraction of FDA user fees for all vaping products, marketing, sales of cigarettes, and advertising of such products
- The FDA will have to comply with issuing “graphic health warnings” for synthetic nicotine and tobacco products
- Raising the minimum smoking age to 21, and making it a crime for retailers to sell to anyone under age 21
- Prohibit online sales and e-cigarette flavored products, including menthol
- The FDA will have to comply with issuing final rulings on the regulations of such products containing nicotine and synthetic nicotine
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will also have to comply by sending annual reports to Congress on the advertising, sales, and promotional activity of cigar, cigarette, and vaping manufacturers
There are already active bills in Congress that have some of these same types of provisions; however, this is the first bill to include them all.
Major Public Health Associations in Support of the Bill
The bill’s sponsors have widespread support from major public health associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, American College of Cardiology, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Thoracic Society, National African American Tobacco Prevention Network, March of Dimes, and the American Cancer Society – although the organization publicly reversed its stance on vaping in a statement that recognized it as a less harmful alternative to smoking).
In support of the proposed minimum age requirements, the American Heart Association stated that data clearly proves e-cigarettes and flavored vaping products are putting the nation’s youth, creating a new generation of addiction. They believe the bill is taking the necessary steps to remove all appealing e-cigarette and vaping flavored products from the marketplace and restrict marketing techniques aimed at youth.
They went on to say that the “tobacco industry” as a whole has a bad track record of being predatory in nature when it comes to marketing to underage children. They believe that e-cigarettes pose a serious threat with their thousands of “youth-appealing flavors”, therefore they strongly support the elimination of flavored tobacco products, prohibiting online sales, and restricting advertising.
The American Lung Association also announced their support for the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act. They believe the new legislation would produce concrete steps to fight the nation’s youth tobacco epidemic. They also believe the bill prioritizes the well-being and health of the nation’s youth and that vaping products pose a frightening public health threat for adolescents and children.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is the third major supporter of the bill. The president of the association, Matthew L. Myers, has given Chairman Pallone high praises for his leadership efforts of introducing a complex bill that could drive down youth tobacco use and reverses the youth vaping epidemic. He also stated that the bill’s prohibition on menthol and flavored e-cigarettes is vital to stopping tobacco and vaping manufacturers from targeting the nation’s youth with enticing flavors. The campaign wants these products abolished and totally removed off the marketplace for good.
If the proposed bill passes legislation, it could crush the entire vaping industry – despite the steady decline in smoking rates since vaping products entered the marketplace.