Senator Murkowski Introduces Bill to Protect Kids from Flavored Tobacco

Bipartisan Bill Addresses Sharp Increase of Kids Using E-Cigarettes

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), alongside Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), recently introduced the Stopping Appealing Flavors in E-Cigarettes for Kids Act or the SAFE Kids Act. This bipartisan legislation will place strict limitations on the use of flavors in tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and cigars. The bill aims to reverse the marketing tactics that make tobacco products more appealing for kids.

“I have been alarmed at the rapid increase we have seen in the use of e-cigarettes by kids in Alaska. Tobacco products, like e-cigarettes and cigars, have no place in the lives of our youth and should not be marketed to children, period,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “The anti-smoking education campaign over the years had finally shown some positive trends—tobacco smoking was truly on the decline. And then came the e- cigarettes. I am proud to be a part of this commonsense bill that will help phase out products being strategically marketed to our children, ensuring they have safer, healthier futures ahead.” 

“While we are still learning about the risks and potential benefits of e-cigarettes, it is becoming clear that use by youth may increase the risk of subsequent use of other tobacco products, including traditional, combustible cigarettes. Vaping liquids with flavors that are attractive to youth may increase uptake early in life, providing a new and risky path to nicotine addiction,” said Jay Butler, Chief Medical Officer of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

“I’m encouraged to see a higher standard being set for the manufacturers of e-cigarettes and flavored cigars. Sadly, e-cigarettes are becoming far too popular among our children as recent reports show that nearly one in five youth in Alaska have used them. The child-friendly flavors— such as candy and chocolate— that are being strategically marketed to our youth, gives them the distorted perception that these products are safe and harmless. I appreciate Senator Murkowski’s support for this common-sense legislation that will help protect young Alaskans from choosing unhealthy habits and potentially becoming addicted to nicotine,” said Karen Perdue, Prior Commissioner of Health and Social Services for Alaska

Bill Details:

  • Restricts the use of flavoring for e-cigarettes: The bill requires manufacturers who wish for their products to remain on the market, to prove to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that their e-cigarette flavorings meet three criteria:
  • Help adults quit smoking cigarettes
  • Do not increase youth initiation of nicotine or tobacco products
  • Do not increase the risk of harm to the person using the flavor.
  • Bans Cigar Flavorings:  The bill would ban the use of all flavors in cigars within one year (the 2009 Tobacco Control Act banned the use of flavors in cigarettes, except for menthol). 

Background: More than 2 million teenagers used e-cigarettes last year, a 653 percent increase from just five years ago, making them the most commonly used tobacco product among youth. Many e-cigarette companies claim their products are made and marketed only to adults; however, statistics show only 3 percent of adults are using e-cigarettes compared to 12 percent of children using them. The use of cigars by youth is also on the rise, with flavored cigars accounting for around half of the U.S. cigar market. The sales of flavored cigars have increased nearly 50 percent since 2008.