U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Ut., has made the news once more asking his colleagues to advance a national ban on flavored electronic cigarette products.
Romney’s comments echo the words of support for such a policy by President Joe Biden’s nominee for Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy — Obama’s Surgeon General from 2014 through 2017.
He went on to reference a 2019 study produced by the Center for Tobacco Products at the Food and Drug Administration. This study features data from the FDA’s annual tobacco use surveys for tracking such use among middle and high school aged students.
“The prevalence of e-cigarette use among U.S. youth increased from 2011 to 2018,” notes the study’s abstract, via the JAMA journal. “Continued monitoring of the prevalence of e-cigarette and other tobacco product use among youth is important to inform public health policy, planning, and regulatory efforts.”
The study in question is entitled “E-Cigarette Use Among Youth in the United States, 2019,” which was published on Nov. 5, 2019. At this time, the former Trump administration signed into law an increased minimum legal sales age to purchase such products.
Former President Donald Trump, of whom Romney is a political foe, mandated that only people 21 years or older can purchase tobacco products. Romney and Murthy, on separate occasions, have advocated for ‘Tobacco 21’ policies.
“The analysis shows that nearly one fourth of high school kids are vaping on a regular basis — tobacco products — and in many cases marijuana, as well,” Romney said, via coverage by local CBS affiliate KUTV, speaking to the study in a meeting with stakeholders.
Previously, Romney introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate in September of 2019. The legislation would have banned flavored vapor products, except for tobacco flavors, in retailers across the country. This bill, though, died in the Senate without any vote or action.
Utah, Romney’s home state, issued an emergency ban on flavored vaping products as a response to the 2019 epidemic of the noncommunicable e-cigarette, vaping associated lung injury (EVALI). The emergency ban, though temporary, mistakenly applied to vapor products that are regulated, not marijuana vapor products purchased illicitly.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention slowly identified that marijuana vapes made up the majority of the EVALI cases, and that these marijuana vapes we’re counterfeits or contaminated products meant to emulate regulated brands sold by companies in states where marijuana is legal.
Utah’s action, including several emergency orders issued by other state governments, was met with a tobacco and vaping industry lawsuit asking for clarity and potential dismissal of the order. Flavored vaping products are still available in Utah, via specialty retailers.
Vaping Post will continue to track: Murthy’s confirmation; potential legislative action involving Romney; and other policy changes made by the Biden White House.