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Flavor ban in Congress
March 7, 2019
4 min to read

New Bills in Congress Would Ban Vape Flavors

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Jim McDonald

A new law that would effectively destroy the independent vaping industry will be introduced this week in separate bills in the Senate and House of Representatives.

The bills, called the SAFE Kids Act, will be formally introduced in the Senate sometime this week by Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin and Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski, and in the House by Reps. Diana DeGette (CO) and Jamie Raskin (MD), both Democrats. (The bills have not been published at this time. When they are, we will update this article with the bill numbers.)

The name SAFE Kids is short for Stopping Appealing Flavors in E-Cigarettes for Kids, according to a Murkowski press release. If passed it would give makers of e-liquid flavors (aside from tobacco) one year to prove their products meet three requirements:

  • Help adults quit smoking cigarettes
  • Do not increase youth initiation of nicotine or tobacco products
  • Do not increase the risk of harm to the person using the flavor
  • If the manufacturers are unable to prove any of these criteria, their products would be banned. The law would also ban all flavored cigars. The wording of the text is virtually identical to the flavor ban component of the bill recently introduced in the House by Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro.

    Proving such broad claims would require years and millions of dollars for clinical studies and other research, which would probably be beyond the reach of any vape manufacturer except JUUL and the tobacco companies. The law would be an effective flavored vape ban.

    “Ask any teacher, parent, or public health expert: E-cigarette use among America’s youth is officially an epidemic. These products have spread throughout our communities, and their popularity among children is due to one factor: flavors that are intentionally meant to appeal to kids, like cotton candy, kool-aid grape, gummy bear, and fruity hoops,” said Senator Durbin. “I’m concerned that powerful e-cigarette companies are winning the war for our children’s health and well-being. If we don’t want the next generation of Americans to grow up with a lifelong addiction to nicotine – one that could very well kill them – then passing the SAFE Kids Act is absolutely critical.”

    “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,” said Rep. DeGette. “If we’re going to address the root cause of this problem, we have to start by banning the sale of these enticing kid-friendly nicotine flavors.”

    None of the vape flavors mentioned by Durbin and DeGette are made by large companies with widespread distribution in general retail outlets. They’re produced by small- to medium-sized businesses that sell their products in vape shops or through commerce websites. A major survey conducted last year shows that adult vapers overwhelmingly prefer fruit and dessert flavors to tobacco in the e-liquid they use frequently.

    “Rep. DeGette’s bill would constitute a de facto ban on over 95 percent of vaping products available on the market today,” American Vaping Association president Gregory Conley told the Denver Post. He told the paper that Rep. DeGette has “little regard for the adult smokers and small business owners she represents.”


    Durbin and Murkowski introduced the same legislation in 2018, but apparently even Durbin didn’t have time to push the bill. It was never heard in committee, and had only four co-sponsors aside from Durbin and Murkowski. Flavor bans are likely to be much more popular now, after nearly another year of the moral panic over JUUL and e-liquid flavors.

    The Durbin press release states, “The SAFE Kids Act is supported by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, the Lung Cancer Alliance, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the Respiratory Health Association, and Children’s Hospital Colorado.”

    Those are the same groups, along with the Truth Initiative, that have focused their attention on creating general outrage over a phantom epidemic of adolescent nicotine addiction.

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    Jim McDonald

    Vaping since: 13 years

    Favorite products:

    Favorite flavors: RY4-style tobaccos, fruits

    Expertise in: Political and legal challenges, tobacco control haters, moral panics

    Jim McDonald

    Smokers created vaping without help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and I believe vapers have the right to continue innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I’m a member of the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy

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