Connecticut lawmakers, mainly Democrats for now, want to sharply reduce the number of flavors available for purchase for e-cigarettes and vaping.
Dozens of Democratic senators and representatives signed on to a measure that would cut down on the number of flavors allowed to be sold in the state.
“Those flavors are what’s drawing kids to nicotine in the first place,” said Rep. Liz Linehan (D – Cheshire), one of the sponsors of the bill.
The industry group that represents vaping manufacturers argues that those flavors are exactly what keeps adults from smoking more harmful tobacco products like cigarettes.
In testimony provided to the Children’s Committee in the Connecticut General Assembly, the American Vaping Association’s President, Greg Conley wrote, “We share the goal of decreasing youth vaping and want to be a part of the solution, but punishing adults is not the answer.”
Juul, one of the industry’s leading companies which has a more than 30 percent backing from tobacco giant Altria, shared similar sentiments.
A spokesman for Juul Labs told NBC Connecticut that Juul is one of the companies that can help prevent more than 4,900 deaths per year linked to combustible cigarettes. The spokesman added, “We launched JUULpod flavors as effective tools to help adult smokers switch from cigarettes and do not and will not sell flavors which are clearly targeted to youth.”
Democrats feel emboldened with their new wider majorities in the House and Senate, that they have the support to approve wide-ranging regulations and restrictions on the vaping industry.
They say they need to regulate e-cigarettes in a strong way now, before they become more widespread, or even more popular, than cigarettes. The issue of allowing adults to quit smoking is part of that effort, but the broader goal is to limit the use of the products by young people.
“By reducing or eliminating those flavors, we are still allowing the opportunity for adults to wean themselves off combustible tobacco products while vaping but still eliminating the source that is drawing the children in the first place,” Rep. Linehan said.