Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D) has announced plans to introduce the SAFE kids act legislation, pushed last year to ban vape flavors in the senate.
If the legislation sounds familiar, it is because this is the same flavor ban legislation that was being pushed last year by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (D) and co-sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R).
The bill, expected to be introduced to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, enters a contentious debate on how to regulate vaping products and address rising levels of e-cigarette use among youth.
Flavors are at the center of the regulatory debate: Some say they're an important tool in getting adults to switch from combustible cigarettes, while others want to ban them entirely because they appeal to kids and minimize how harmful and addictive vapes are perceived to be.
"To me, there is no legitimate reason to sell any product with names such as cotton candy or tutti fruitti, unless you are trying to market it to children," DeGette, a Democrat, said in a statement Monday. "Most experts agree that the kid-friendly flavors that e-cigarette manufactures are selling with these products are one of the leading causes of this spike in use among our high school and middle school students."
If DeGette's bill becomes law, it will ban these flavors within a year if companies can't prove to the US Food and Drug Administration that flavors are not, as she underlined, implicated in the rise in vaping among kids. It would also require companies to show that flavors are instrumental in getting smokers to leave combustible cigarettes and that they don't make vapes more harmful to the user.
Axios reported Friday that Gottlieb was unveiling plans at the White House that could prevent flavored e-cigarettes from being sold in convenience stores. In a statement to CNN, FDA spokeswoman Jennifer Rodriguez said, "I can confirm that Dr. Gottlieb was at the White House today, but cannot confirm any details." She deferred questions to the White House, where a representative said that "we don't have any announcements at this time."
Mark Anton, executive director of industry group Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, previously told CNN that his group shares the goal of preventing kids from using vapes but doesn't think flavors should be the target.
"There's no evidence that adults need these flavors to quit smoking," Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, founder and executive director of the Stanford Tobacco Prevention Toolkit, said at an FDA hearing in January.
The reason this legislation is more threatening that last years round of flavor ban legislation is the Congress is currently held by the Democrat party of which DeGette is a member.
This legislation is likely to get a vote and if passed, a vote will be forced in the Senate on this legislation where the SAFE Kids Act has already received bipartisan support. President Trump has yet to veto any legislation during his term.