The House will vote next week on a bill aimed at reducing youth vaping rates by banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
Anti-tobacco advocates argue flavors such as mint and mango have hooked children on vaping, with an estimated 5.4 million middle and high school students using e-cigarettes in 2019, according to government data.
The bill, sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Rep. Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaDemocrats face bleak outlook in Florida 'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection Pelosi, Schumer must appoint new commissioners to the CARES Act oversight panel MORE (D-Fla.), would also ban online sales of e-cigarettes and tobacco products.
“We must advance this legislation in order to prevent losing another generation to tobacco-related illnesses and premature death,” Pallone said in November when the bill passed his committee 28-24. While the bill is likely to pass the House, it’s not clear if it will get a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Congress raised the tobacco-purchasing age from 18 to 21 last year, but advocates say it needs to do more to curb youth vaping rates.
Democrats argue the bill is needed as the Trump administration drops the ball on combating youth vaping.
The administration recently banned the sale of pod-based e-cigarette flavors including fruit, but exempted menthol.
Pod-based products, like those manufactured by Juul, are the most popular with teens, according to government surveys.
Disposable e-cigarettes, open tank systems and e-liquids of any flavor, including those mixed in vape shops, will also remain available under the policy.
The Pallone-Shalala bill would ban flavors in all of these products. It includes a narrow pathway for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approved flavored products if they are found to reduce smoking rates.
Opponents of e-cigarette flavor bans argue those products are useful for adults to transition away from traditional cigarettes.
After May, companies that want to sell e-cigarettes in the U.S. will have to receive approval from the FDA and prove their products benefit public health.