Delaware Lawmakers Take Aim at Banning Flavored E-Cigarettes, Cite Public Health Concern for Children

Legislation to ban flavored e-cigarettes and/or 'vape juice' is only in the early stages in Delaware

What to Know

  • A group of Delaware lawmakers are making the push to ban flavored e-cigarettes statewide by possibly drafting legislation.
  • The concern is that flavored e-cigarettes with sweet flavors are being marketed to children.
  • The CDC says there have been hundreds of possible cases of lung disease related to vaping reported in 33 states. Some people have died.

E-cigarettes and the "vape juice" they use are the targets of three Delaware lawmakers in the early stages of crafting legislation that would ban flavored e-cigarette products in the First State.

The group of Democratic lawmakers are considering a ban on flavored e-cigarette sales in the state. State Reps. Debra Heffernan, Melissa Minor-Brown and Krista Griffith are looking to act in the wake of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning about vaping illness.

Heffernan, who represents Brandywine Hundred South, says that the proposal is only in the early phase of research and discussion.

"We currently are looking at banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and/or the flavored vape juice that goes in them," Heffernan said. "The flavored e-cigs are what are being marketed toward teens and young people, which in turn will lead to another generation of people hooked on nicotine."

"Our goal with this proposal is to break that cycle," she said.

Delaware currently taxes vapor products containing nicotine at five cents per a fluid milliliter. It isn't clear how much money has been raised since the "vape juice" tax went into effect last year.

Heffernan said she doesn't have information about how a ban could impact business in Delaware. She instead wanted to focus on potential long-term health risks.

"This has the potential to be a serious public health crisis, and we have to treat it as one," she said.

Heffernan said they don't think they would ban vaping for medicinal purposes and that they will keep an open mind as they craft the legislation. With the General Assembly on recess until early January, the lawmakers have plenty of time to draft a bill.

While Delaware will have to wait on action, at least one state is taking on vape juice.

Last week, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer moved to make her state the first to ban flavored electronic cigarettes, accusing companies of using candy flavors and deceptive advertising to "hook children on nicotine."

Companies flavor their e-cigarettes like bubblegum, fruit loops cereal and apple juice, Whitmer said, to get kids addicted — "creating consumers for them so they can make money at the risk of children's health."

The actions against e-cigarettes come as the CDC tries to learn more about the health effects of vaping.

Delaware health officials announced Monday that they are investigating three possible cases of severe lung disease related to the use of electronic cigarettes.

The CDC says there have been 450 possible cases of lung disease related to vaping reported in 33 states. A handful of cases have ended in death.

"The rising number of lung illnesses across the country that are associated with the use of e-cigarette products is incredibly alarming," DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said. "We strongly encourage individuals, especially youth, to avoid using e-cigarette products. I cannot stress this point strongly enough - these illnesses can be life-threatening."

The agency says no evidence of infectious diseases have been identified, meaning the illnesses are likely associated with chemical exposure. It says no specific substance or product has been linked to all cases, though many cases involve people who reported vaping THC, marijuana's high-inducing chemical.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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