Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin has teamed up with Senator Lisa Mirkowski, a Republican, to launch a new offensive on e-liquid flavors.
On Monday, Illinois Democrat Durbin announced plans for a bipartisan bill to restrict ‘child-friendly’ flavorings.
Arguing that e-cigarettes were part of a Big Tobacco ploy to get a new generation of kids hooked on nicotine, Durbin’s bill would require manufacturers to prove that flavorings aren’t harmful, don’t tempt kids into using nicotine and help adults quit.
Manufacturers would have to one year to provide such evidence to the FDA.
“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 statement.
“But, I am convinced that e-cigarettes represent the ‘re-invention of smoking,’ cooked up by Big Tobacco to hook a new generation.”
Senator Durbin believes that flavors such as cake batter, whipped cream and gummy bears are responsible for an increase in teenagers taking up vaping.
“When the people who make these products, like JUUL, insist this is just for adults to quit smoking tobacco products– bologna, you wouldn’t be pedaling these flavors to adults,” Senator Durbin said.
No evidence that e-cigarettes act as a route to smoking for children
Evidence that links e-cigarettes with an increase in smoking amongst young people is limited.
A landmark study from Public Health England concluded that “there is no evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers”.
The ‘Stopping Appealing Flavors in E-Cigarettes for Kids’ or ‘SAFE Kids’ Act is just the latest move against flavored e-liquids in the U.S.
San Francisco has already banned the sale of all flavored tobacco, including e-liquids. Other states may soon follow suit.
The FDA has also launched an investigation into e-cigarette flavorings. They opened a public consultation into flavored vape juice earlier this year and last week nine attorneys general urged the FDA to ban flavored tobacco products.
No new FDA regulations are currently in the pipeline, however.
For Senator Durban this bill is just the latest legislative effort designed to cut e-cigarette use.
In 2014, Senator Durbin, along with a group of other Senate Democrats, labelled e-cigarettes ‘candy flavored poisons’ in a letter to the commissioner of the FDA.