Could flavored e-cigarette products and cigars be a thing of the past? If a new bi-partisan bill gets passed, both could be. There have many local attacks on flavored tobacco products in recent years, most notably the flavor ban in San Francisco [read more here], and while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has begun to examine the topic of flavored tobacco through one of its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemakings (ANPRM), this new bill could help expedite the national crackdown on flavored tobacco products.
Introduced by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Stopping Appealing Flavors in E-Cigarettes for Kids (SAFE Kids) Act will restrict e-cigarette flavors and outright ban flavored cigars all together. E-cigarette manufacturers will have one year to prove to the FDA that their e-cigarette flavorings help adult quit smoking cigarettes, do not pave a way for youth to use other nicotine and tobacco products and that the flavored product doesn’t present any risk or harm to the person using the flavor. If e-cigarette manufacturers can prove these three things, then they can remain on the market.
Cigar manufacturers will not have any relief, as the bill states that smoking cigars presents “no public health benefit” and thus all flavors would be banned in cigars within a year.
“We have made great progress in convincing kids not to start smoking cigarettes. They know that cigarettes kill and that, nowadays, it’s hard to find someplace where smoking cigarettes is even allowed,” Durbin said in a press release. “But, I am convinced that e-cigarettes represent the ‘re-invention of smoking,’ cooked up by Big Tobacco to hook a new generation. Unfortunately, kids don’t understand that e-cigarettes are highly addictive, harmful to their developing brains, and can lead to a lifetime of tobacco addiction. These products, especially flavors that shamelessly appeal to kids, are doing more harm than good.”
The press release goes on to describe the growing e-cigarette concerned echoed by the FDA in recent months, providing facts and figures such as “only 3 percent of adults are using e-cigarettes whereas 12 percent of kids are using them” and “e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth.” When speaking about cigars, the press release lumps them into the same category as e-cigarettes, claiming, “. This popularity is being driven in part by kid-friendly e-cigarette and cigar flavors such as cake batter, whipped cream, and gummy bear. Yet, while there are flavor restrictions for cigarettes, thousands of kid-friendly flavors of e-cigarettes and cigars proliferate on the market.”
As many premium cigar manufacturers and advocates have noted in the past, an issue presented with a vast majority of the anti-tobacco legislation is that there’s often no distinguishing between a premium cigar–which is not typically made with kid-friendly flavors–and a mass-market blunt product. This legislation does, however, continue the push against e-cigarettes being marketed as kid-friendly, something the FDA itself has attempted to crackdown on in recent months [read more here].
Senators Durbin and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will introduce the SAFE Kids Act this month. You can read the full press-release about this proposed legislation by clicking here.