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Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) issued a report calling youth e-cigarette use an “epidemic” and reporting findings that more than 3.6 million middle and high school students are currently using e-cigarettes, approximately 1.5 million more than in 2017. 1 in 5 high school students, and 1 in 20 middle school students are now using e-cigarettes.

Six state lawmakers, (Senators Jerry Hill, Connie M. Leyva , Steve Glazer, Anthony J. Portantino, and Scott Wiener along with Assemblymember Kevin McCarty) will be introducing a statewide California flavor ban bill next week seeking to ban flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-liquids, in vending machines as well as in retail stores including already age-restricted vape shops. The lawmakers are proposing the bill in hopes of reducing the number of underage e-cigarette users.

Last June, the most stringent flavor ban in the US passed in San Francisco, and many cities in California had similar restrictions under consideration.

“We must stop the appalling epidemic of e-cigarette use by youths,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. “Enticed by fruit, candy and other appealing flavors, high school and middle school students throughout the U.S. are vaping in record numbers. The surge has reversed the decline in underage use of all tobacco products.”

It is already illegal in California for those under the age of 21 to purchase or consume e-cigarettes, tobacco, and vaping products, with an exception for military personnel over age 18. That law went into effect in June 2016.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb blames flavored e-cigarette products as a primary cause for increased youth e-cigarette usage, noting that 68 percent of the e-cigarette users in high school consumed flavored products in 2018, up from 61 percent in 2017. A National Institutes of Health study reported that 80% users aged 12-17 and 73% of young tobacco users aged 18-24 used flavored tobacco products. And 81% of youth reported that their first tobacco experience was with a flavored e-cigarette.

But opponents of the proposed California flavor ban legislation say that prohibiting flavored e-cigarettes and vape juice will halt or stifle efforts by adults who are using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, and that a bill outlawing an effective smoking cessation tool is shortsighted while combustible cigarettes are still on the market.

Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association, responded to the proposed legislation in the following tweet:

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