Bipartisan bill proposes banning flavored e-cigarettes amid vaping crisis

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HAZEMMKAMAL/iStock(WASHINGTON) — As public health concerns over vaping continue to build, two congressmen are introducing bipartisan legislation aimed at curbing the habit, especially among underage users.

The move comes as the Trump administration has proposed banning all flavored e-cigarettes and at least two states — New York and Michigan — have taken action to do the same. At least 360 cases of severe lung disease in 36 states and one territory are being tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And while a cause for the lung disease is not known, “most” of the patients have a history of using THC-containing vape products, the CDC said.

Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y. and Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y. are behind the “Quell Underage Inhaling of Toxic Substances (QUITS) Act,” which proposes a federal ban on flavors in e-cigarette and tobacco products, creating a federal tax on e-cigarettes, raising the existing federal taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products and increasing the budget for the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. The legislation is the most comprehensive of its kind to be introduced in Congress.

Underage use of aping products has long been a concern of both federal and state government officials, especially fruit-flavored products marketed towards youth.

According to the CDC’s latest report, the agency has confirmed six deaths linked to lung disease associated with e-cigarettes, and a seventh death was reported this week. The CDC has also activated its “emergency operations center” to coordinate a national response.

Earlier this week, New York became the first state to ban the sale of e-flavored cigarettes, approving an emergency ban on the products. Michigan approved a ban on some flavors, but that ban has not yet taken effect.

Vaping has also caught the attention of the White House. Last week, President Trump said his administration would move to ban flavored e-cigarette products.

“We are looking at vaping strongly, it’s very dangerous, children have died and people have died,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “We’re going to have some very strong rules and regulations.”

At the time of the announcement, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that the FDA plans to finalize a guidance document to start enforcing removing flavors other than tobacco from the market.

It’s unclear how effective this would be: the FDA has issued warnings already about using flavors to target young people and companies have said they made changes to address the FDA’s concerns.

Previously, a spokesperson for industry leader JUUL Labs said in a statement to ABC News: “We strongly agree with the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavored products. We will fully comply with the final FDA policy when effective.”

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