KTVA: National e-cigarette bill resurfaces amid rise in youth vaping

Alaska's senior senator is one of two lawmakers reintroducing bipartisan legislation that would put more restrictions on the e-cigarette industry, according to a statement sent Tuesday.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, last summer in introducing the Stopping Appealing Flavors in E-Cigarettes for Kids Act (SAFE Kids Act), which would restrict certain flavorings in e-cigarettes and ban flavoring in cigars completely.

The two senators are now reintroducing the legislation.

When young people were asked about the reasons they used e-cigarettes, 82 percent of youth users said “because they come in flavors I like,” according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The SAFE Kids Act would give e-cigarette manufacturers one year to prove that their products help adults quit smoking, do not increase youth nicotine or tobacco use and do not increase harm to someone using the flavoring. If those criteria are met, the products could stay on the market.

Murkowski says the health and safety of children should always be the nation’s priority and she’s proud to help prevent kids from possibly becoming addicted to unhealthy products.

"The harsh reality is children are being targeted by unfair marketing tactics to make tobacco products more appealing to kids," Murkowski wrote in the statement. "From gummy bears to cotton candy and fruit loops, there is a laundry list of candy-flavored e-cigarette and cigars. I'm glad the FDA finally took regulatory actions last year, but those restrictions should be made into law."

The senators say that, from 2000-2018, cigarette smoking among high schoolers dropped from 28 percent to 8 percent, but those gains are in danger of being reversed due to the rise in popularity of newer tobacco products.

New numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that tobacco use among young people has increased sharply over the last two years. Among high schoolers, tobacco use rose more than 38 percent and e-cigarette use increased by 78 percent. The number of middle schoolers using e-cigarettes saw a 48 percent rise.

Representatives Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, and Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, introduced the companion bill to Murkowski and Durbin’s proposed legislation.

By:  Jeff Bridges
Source: KTVA