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Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Regulate Flavored E-Liquid

Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Regulate Flavored E-Liquid


Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Regulate Flavored E-Liquid

Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have proposed a bill to impose heavy regulations on flavored e-liquids, due to an alleged concern that vapor products target children with advertising. This proposal is the latest in a string of regulatory actions to cracking down on flavored e-liquid, including a city-wide ban passed in San Francisco and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sending letters to vapor companies warning them about underaged use. These actions, and the proposed bill, largely ignore studies that have found that vapor products are integral for smokers who want to quit.

Co-sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.), the “Stopping Appealing Flavors in E-Cigarettes for Kids (SAFE Kids) Act” takes a harsh stance against flavoring, although it contains an opportunity for reprieve - the bill would ban all flavored e-liquid unless manufactures could prove within a year of the bill’s passage that their products meet criteria properly safeguarding them from children. The proposed legislation outlines the criteria in three parts:

(1)   Help adults quit smoking cigarettes;
(2)   Do not increase youth initiation of nicotine or tobacco products; and
(3)   Do not increase the risk of harm to the person using the flavor.

Durbin, in his statement about the proposed bill, inaccurately depicted the way flavored e-liquids affect the market. In it, he laid out a rejection of any harm reduction argument for vaping, and instead, stated that vaping was a mere "re-invention" of combustible cigarettes

“I am convinced that e-cigarettes represent the ‘re-invention of smoking,’ cooked up by Big Tobacco to hook a new generation,” Durbin said in announcing his bill. He also accused companies of promoting “flavors that shamelessly appeal to kids."

While it’s uncertain whether or not this particular bill will be brought to vote in Congress, if it does pass the vaping industry should be more than ready to challenge the stipulations laid out. For years, various studies have debunked myths common in the realm of American politics including scientifically-driven data that push back against the idea that vaping is marketed to young people and results in more tobacco users as a result.

In 2016, the vapor product advocacy group CASAA released a wide-ranging study on vaping which found that 72 percent of ex-smokers say a wide availability of flavors was instrumental in helping them quit, and most ex-smokers-turned-vapers would turn back to smoking or seek out alternative markets to get e-liquids in the event of a flavor ban. Additionally, the survey refutes the idea that these products are designed specifically for kids, finding that most adults who are experienced vapers have overwhelmingly found that flavored e-liquid as the most effective replacement for combustible cigarettes.

“The results about flavors are simply another confirmation of what everyone with any expertise has known for years: “Proper e-cigarette users (adults who used or are using them to quit smoking) overwhelmingly prefer and choose interesting — usually sweet — flavors, and these flavors play a major role in smoking cessation. Choosing them is the equilibrium state for most vapers,” reads an excerpt from the survey.

The SAFE Kids Act, if passed, would be a huge shift for the vaping industry. It would set ubiquitous standards that would only hurt tobacco cessation efforts. The good news is that more studies are on the way. CASAA announced last month that they'll be conducting a long-term follow-up survey which specifically zeroes in on the role that flavors play in vapers' day-to-day habits. With more studies looking at vaping adhering to harm reduction, vapers are going to have a lot to argue against the government, if anti-vaping laws like this ever pass.