House Democrats to vote on flavored e-cigarettes ban next year
A bill aimed at curbing youth vaping rates by banning flavored e-cigarettes will not get a vote in the House until next year, one of the measure’s co-sponsors said.
Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), who co-sponsors the bill with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), told The Hill on Wednesday that she has a “promise” from House leadership for a vote on the floor “early” next year.
Shalala had previously said the bill would get a vote by the end of the year. But Congress has a limited number of working days left this month, and it’s racing to avoid a government shutdown.
The Florida Democrat blamed the delay on the lack of time, and also said she wanted to make sure the bill got “good visibility.”
The measure would also increase the tobacco purchasing age to 21 and ban online sales of e-cigarettes.
Some House Democrats have pushed for a vote on the bill as the Trump administration delays action on youth vaping rates.
President Trump announced in September his administration would clear the market of all flavored e-cigarette products. But Trump now says he wants to find a compromise that will appease both public health advocates — who want a full flavor ban — as well as vaping advocates, who say flavors are key to helping adults quit smoking.
Research from the federal government shows the number of kids who are vaping reached an all-time high this year: 27.5 percent of high school students said they have recently used an e-cigarette, compared to the 20.8 percent who said the same in 2018. The same survey showed kids who vaped said mint and fruit flavors were their favorite.
“Congressional action is even more critical now after the president retreated from his promise to prohibit flavors in tobacco products that are so popular with our youth,” Pallone said at a hearing last month.
“We must advance this legislation in order to prevent losing another generation to tobacco-related illnesses and premature death.”
It’s not clear if the bill would pass the Republican-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has endorsed raising the tobacco purchasing age as the best way to curb youth vaping rates.
E-cigarette and tobacco companies have pushed back hard against a flavor ban, and now support raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21, after years of opposing the idea.
Anti-tobacco advocates voiced disappointment this week when House and Senate Democrats and Republicans announced a deal on health care legislation that would increase the tobacco purchasing age to 21 but not address flavors.
“With the youth vaping epidemic growing, we must take a comprehensive approach that includes both a prohibition on all flavored tobacco products in addition to raising the age of sale to 21,” the American Heart Association said in a statement Tuesday.