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The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act vaping bill, introduced by Rep Donna Shalala (D-FL) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) seeks to prohibit flavors other than tobacco (unless they are specifically approved by the FDA), would prohibit sales to anyone under the age of 21, prohibit all online sales of e-cigarettes and vape juice, allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to collect $100 million in “user fees” that President Trump called for in his budget, and order the FDA to regulate products which use synthetic nicotines.

Shalala, one of the vaping bill’s co-sponsors stated, “My legislation also treats e-cigarettes and other tobacco products the same as traditional cigarettes under the law.  We cannot afford to wait – we are on the cusp of losing an entirely new generation to a lifetime of nicotine addiction.”

The problem is that e-cigarettes are not the same as traditional cigarettes.

Vaping is not the same as smoking; early studies have found that vaping is far less risky than smoking. In addition, research has found vaping to be most effective method to stop smoking, effectively doubling your chances of quitting. In fact, vaping is such an effective smoking cessation method that the FDA is looking to speed up its approval.) And as vaping has increased, teen smoking has decreased.

While long-term research is still needed and underway, scientific studies have overwhelmingly found e-cigarettes to be far less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

That said, the FDA has called the rise in youth vaping, fueled by the popularity of JUUL (whom the FDA has accused of marketing to teens via social media) an “epidemic”. Altria, the manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes, owns a 35% stake in JUUL.

Rep. Shalala said in a statement, “…the use of e-cigarettes, particularly by children, is beginning to undo years of progress we have made.  Our bill, The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act, takes concrete steps to limit access and the appeal of tobacco products to people under 21.  At the end of the day, our main goal is to reduce the number of kids using tobacco products in the United States.”

The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act has support from a number of anti-vaping groups including the American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Lung Association, American Thoracic Society, and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, among others.

The bill, if passed, has the potential to wipe out the vaping industry altogether, except for a few major players – namely those e-cigarette companies that are owned by Big Tobacco. Small vape shops, whose business depends largely on vape juice and on adult vapers’ preference for fruit and dessert flavors, would be forced to close their doors. Just over 7% of adult vapers, many of whom are ex-smokers, currently use tobacco-flavored vape juice.

In response, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) just announced he’d be introducing a republican vaping bill that would set the age for e-cigarette use to 21 nationwide, with an exception for those serving in the military. McConnell plans to introduce the new legislation in May, according to The Hill.

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