US flavour ban gains momentum

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Romney brings e-cig bill to Senate

The end of vaping in the USA loomed a little closer last week as Senators Mitt Romney (R, UT) and Jeff Merkley (D, OR) introduced a bill that would sweep most products off the market and slam what remained with punitive taxes. Promoted as a response to the “vaping crisis” that will “prevent a new generation from addiction”, the reality is that the bill is a blunt instrument that will push millions back to smoking.

The heart of the bill is a ban on all non-tobacco e-liquid flavours. According to Merkley, “Vaping companies have hooked millions of our children on nicotine using e-cigarette flavors like ‘gummy bear,’ ‘scooby snacks,’ and ‘strawberries and cream.’” Like most opponents of vaping he’s ignoring the fact that repeated studies have shown these flavours are popular among adult vapers, and play an important role in transitioning former smokers away from tobacco.

There’s plenty more bad news hidden in the bill, though. One measure is a requirement for vaping devices to be “tamper proof” (impossible to modify) and a ban on “refillable cartridges” (tanks). Between them, these two clauses eliminate all vapour products except closed systems and prefilled cartridges for them. Considering that clinical trials consistently find open system devices more effective at helping smokers quit, this is a crushing blow for harm reduction.

Finally, the bill would hammer whatever products remained with the same excise taxes that are applied to actual cigarettes. This is probably the real objective behind the law – to raise revenue. Romney wants that revenue to be used on a “public awareness” campaign about the “dangers” of vaping.

Federal prosecutors go after JUUL

The US Attorney’s Office for the northern district of – where else? – California has launched a criminal investigation of JUUL Labs, whose popular pod system e-cigarette has become the chief demon in the USA’s current moral panic over vaping. The office hasn’t released details of the probe yet, but it’s likely focused on the persistent allegations that JUUL Labs has targeted its marketing at children and teenagers.

These allegations have always been puzzling – JUUL Labs has never manufactured the dreaded “candy flavours” that legislators like to demonise, and has infuriated the rest of the industry with its support of higher age limits and expensive verification – but they keep coming up.

JUUL Labs has already been singled out for special attention by the

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