Politico: Senate eyes e-cigarette crackdown

The White House has its knives out for the e-cigarette industry — and so does Capitol Hill.

Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) have penned a bill that largely tracks with President Donald Trump’s crackdown on vaping, according to a draft obtained by POLITICO. The response from Congress comes amid health concerns over widespread use among teenagers of products such as e-cigarettes and vape oils that have been linked to deaths and illnesses in recent weeks.

Merkley and Romney's bill would ban flavors other than tobacco, create design standards for e-cigarettes, monitor health risks for the technology, apply existing tobacco taxes to e-cigarettes and nudge the Department of Health and Human Services to run a campaign to educate Americans about any health risks of e-cigarettes. The bill also aims to derail the practice of refilling vape cartridges with home-brewed tobacco mixes.

“With nearly a quarter of high school students vaping regularly, we must take decisive action to prevent a new generation from addiction and serious health risks,” Romney said.

“Vaping companies have hooked millions of our children on nicotine using e-cigarette flavors like ‘gummy bear,’ ‘scooby snacks,’ and ‘strawberries and cream.’ This means massive health consequences for the next generation,” Merkley added. “Refillable cartridges are an invitation to hazardous concoctions, and we need to get them off the market too.”

The legislation builds on a growing campaign on the Hill at odds with the vaping industry, from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s move to raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21 to a bill from Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to take flavored products off the market. The Trump administration has also promised quick action against flavored vaping products, briefing leading senators on the issue last week after Trump’s announcement of new actions against flavored e-cigarettes.

By:  Burgess Everett
Source: Politico