Massachusetts 1st US state to ban flavored tobacco, vaping products

Robie de Guzman   •   November 28, 2019   •   444

New York, USA – Massachusetts  on Wednesday become the first state in the United States to ban flavored tobacco and nicotine vaping products, including menthol cigarettes, after Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a bill to that effect.

This law seeks to make these flavored tobacco products less attractive to the youth amid a wave of vaping-related illnesses and deaths.

Anti-smoking groups hailed the initiative, which restricts the sale and consumption of flavored vaping products immediately and that of menthol cigarettes from June 1, 2020.

In recent months, Massachusetts and other states, including Michigan, Montana, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington, have temporarily banned or restricted the sale of vaping products.

But Massachusetts is now the first state to impose a permanent ban on all flavored tobacco or nicotine vaping products.

The new law specifically restricts the sale of these products to licensed smoking bars, exclusively for on-site consumption.

The ban extends to menthol cigarettes and flavored e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and chewing tobacco.

It also imposes a 75 percent excise tax on nicotine vaping products and gives public health officials new authority to regulate the products. EFE-EPA

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US bans fruit, mint vaping cartridges to curb youth use

Robie de Guzman   •   January 3, 2020

Washington – The United States Food and Drug Administration on Thursday banned the sale of unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes, including fruit and mint, in an attempt to reduce their use among children and youth.

The decision, in which companies have 30 days to cease manufacture, distribution and sales, aims to reduce the “troubling epidemic” among youth, although for some sectors it is seen as a step back from the original plan of the President Donald Trump administration to ban all flavors.

“The United States has never seen an epidemic of substance use arise as quickly as our current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in the FDA statement.

On September 11 last year, Azar announced that the Trump administration planned to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes except tobacco after the first deaths linked to their use were made public.

At that time, Trump, in statements from the Oval Office with Azar and other officials, said that vaping is a problem that especially affects “innocent children.”

In October, Juul, the largest manufacturer of e-cigarettes in the US, announced it was suspending sales of most of its flavors in the country ahead of the ban, although it anticipated that it would continue to manufacture tobacco and menthol flavors.

The same month, The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration was considering allowing the sale of some flavors so as not to put at risk the re-election of Trump, whose campaign team has warned of the electoral impact that the plan to ban all flavored e-cigarettes would have amid possible job losses and voter backlash.

The report said Trump’s campaign chief Brad Parscale warned that the plan to reduce vaping among young people could hurt Trump in the 2020 election.

Groups working in the industry also created a pushback campaign called #IvapeIVote and #WeVapeWeVote.

In its statement, the FDA cited federal survey data to show that young people are particularly attracted to flavors such as fruit and mint, more so than to tobacco or menthol.

According to local media, 55 people have died across 27 states due to a lung illness linked to vaping. EFE-EPA

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PH Customs bans entry of vaping products through ports

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has ordered all ports across the country to prevent the entry of vaping products following President Rodrigo Duterte’s verbal directive to ban its importation.

In a Facebook post, the BOC said it is closely coordinating with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies for the enforcement of the ban.

“The Bureau of Customs has issued a directive to its Intelligence and Enforcement Groups as well as all our ports of entry to be vigilant and prevent the entry of Vape products and its related items in compliance with the order of President Rodrigo Duterte,” it said.

“Hence all importation of Vape products and its related items shall immediately be subject to seizure by the Bureau of Customs,” it added.

Duterte on Tuesday announced a ban on the use, sale and importation of electronic cigarettes and other similar vaping devices, and directed law enforcers to arrest vape smokers in public.

The Chief Executive’s announcement came after a recent report of the first e-cigarette vaping-associated lung injury (e-VALI) in the country.

The President said an executive order will be issued to formalize his directive.

New York governor proposes ban on flavored e-cigarettes

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2019

A man smokes an electronic cigarette vaporizer, also known as an e-cigarette, in Toronto, August 7, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed legislation on Monday (September 9) to ban flavored e-cigarettes statewide in an effort to protect young people from the unknown consequences of vaping.

“Common sense says if you don’t know what you’re smoking, don’t smoke it,” Cuomo told reporters at a news conference. “And right now, we don’t know what you’re smoking in a lot of these vaping substances,” he said.

The governor’s announcement comes after a nationwide surge in mysterious, serious lung illnesses possibly related to vaping, which has also been linked to five deaths in the United States.

The decision is of a piece with how vaping is currently being viewed by many on the street in New York.

“You don’t know what the hell you’re smoking,” Brian, a construction worker, told Reuters. “You don’t know what they’re putting in that oil.”

U.S. public health officials on Friday announced that they are investigating about 450 cases of the illness across 33 states and one U.S. territory, including 41 cases in the state of New York. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said they have not linked the illnesses to any specific e-cigarette product or ingredient.

If the proposed legislation were to become law, New York would become the second state to ban flavored e-cigarettes, following Michigan, which passed a ban on Wednesday.

While e-cigarettes are promoted as a product to help smokers cut down or quit, health officials have expressed concerns that many e-cigarette flavors are designed to get a new generation hooked on nicotine.

Many of the reported illnesses involved vaping products, including cannabis products, containing vitamin E acetate, an oil derived from vitamin E that is potentially dangerous if inhaled,

Cuomo, sitting beside New York Commissioner of Health, Dr. Howard Zucker, also announced that the state’s Department of Health was issuing subpoenas to three e-cigarette companies, Honey Cut Labs LLC, Floraplex Terpenes and Mass Terpenes LLC. The Department of Health obtained samples from the three companies and found high levels of vitamin E acetate in their products.

Cuomo said stores that sell e-cigarettes will be required to disclose potential health consequences.

“It’s quite simple: Don’t do it,” Cuomo said. “Don’t do it because we don’t know if it’s safe.” (Reuters)

(Production by: Dan Fastenberg and Hussein al Waaile)

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