House Passes Nationwide Flavor Ban
Representatives scramble to save bill following Democrat resistance
Lawmakers in the United States face a near gridlock in the debate surrounding vaping. While some are dedicated to an anti-vaping agenda, others are open to a more toward objective outlook regarding vaping.
The US House of Representatives voted on a bill that effectively bans all flavored nicotine products. The bill was largely driven by Democratic support, although some were resistant to the measure.
The House bill follows a similar ban implemented by the Food and Drug Administration, although the FDA ban notably allowed exemptions for menthol flavoring and continued to permit flavoring to be used in vape juice for open-tank systems. Some legislators were concerned that the previous ban didn’t go far enough, allowing too many concessions toward the vaping industry.
Critics of the measure are concerned over the bills targeting menthol, stating that the legislation may disproportionately harm black and rural communities due to the larger prevalence of menthol use among these groups. These critics argue the measure would also create an illegal market that places people of color and lower-income individuals at a higher risk of arrest and prosecution.
Federal Flavor Ban
On Friday, February 28th, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass House Resolution 2339, also known as the “Protecting American Lungs and Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2020”. The bill bans the sale of flavored vapor and tobacco products, including menthol and vape juice for open-system devices.
The House bill goes farther than a previous ban announced by the FDA, which had exempted both menthol and vape juice for open-system devices and specifically targeted vapor products. Sponsors of the bill have stated the ban is a part of an effort to help curb youth access to nicotine products.
The American Civil Liberties Union, as well as some members of the Congressional Black Caucus, opposed the new bill. These critics state the measure may disproportionately harm lower-income and minority communities who are more likely to use menthol nicotine products.
“Considering the fact that 90 percent of black smokers use menthol products, menthol tobacco users would live in fear of new stop-and-frisk opportunities under this legislation, because menthol would now be considered an illegal flavor,” Representative Yvette Clrack wrote in an op-ed piece for The Hill. Others have invoked the memory of Eric Garner, a New York man who was killed by police after being placed in a chokehold while being arrested for selling loose cigarettes.
A group of renowned public health scholars joined together to speak out against blanket bans on vaping and highlight the promises and potential it may provide adult smokers. In a piece published in the journal Science, they note that there is currently no evidence that vaping is harmful, and that prohibitive policy will only turn former smokers back towards tobacco or even the black market.
There is a wealth of evidence highlighting vaping’s efficacy as a smoking cessation aid. For example, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that vaping was more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapies in helping people both quit smoking and remain tobacco-free. In addition, research conducted by the University of Louisville found that vaping was the single most effective form of smoking cessation available today.
In addition to the evidence noting vaping’s efficacy as a smoking cessation device, there are a series of studies indicating the reduced harm vaping poses compared to smoking. As an example, research by Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center each found that vaping is 95% and 93% safer than smoking, respectively.
The new House bill represents a key example of legislative bias, effectively targeting some of the most vulnerable groups in the nation. The law would bring disproportionate policing on low-income and minority communities, giving the police new forms of “probable cause.”
This measure only perpetuates the cycle of systemic harassment and illegal search and seizure against these groups. A bill that is aimed at saving teens may effectively be placing low-income, and minority lives directly at risk.
Members of the vaping industry and community must not stand idly by and allow such a detrimental bill to pass. These groups must remain continuously civically engaged in helping successfully lobby lawmakers about the dangers of the bill and the potential that vaping can offer.
What are your thoughts regarding House Resolution 2339? How do you believe this measure will impact the vaping industry and community moving forward? We would love to hear from you in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
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