Hawaii considers first statewide ban on e-cigarette flavors

Lawmakers in Hawaii are considering a bill that would outlaw flavored tobacco products.The flavors often come in liquid form and can be used in e-ciga...

Posted: Apr 1, 2019 9:10 AM

Lawmakers in Hawaii are considering a bill that would outlaw flavored tobacco products.

The flavors often come in liquid form and can be used in e-cigarette or vaping devices.

There are more than 15,000 flavors online, ranging from cotton candy to banana cream, according to data cited by health groups. Lawmakers say the packaging is deceptive and designed to look like Jolly Rachers or Sour Patch Kids.

Advocates for the flavors say they can help adults taper addictions to actual cigarettes, while critics argue they hook young people on nicotine, driving them toward real cigarettes.

If passed, the bill would make Hawaii the first state to ban flavored tobacco, though a number of US cities have passed these same type of measures.

San Francisco, Berkeley, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Providence, Rhode Island have also passed flavored tobacco regulations or bans.

Hawaii's legislature tried to ban flavored tobacco products in 2014, but that bill failed..

Advocates want to prevent kids from taking up smoking

Ahead of a hearing last month about the bill, the Hawaii Public Health Institute submitted a list of 120 organizations supporting the legislation as part of the #FlavorsHooksKidsHI campaign. The groups included the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society Action Network, as well as the Hawaii chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The bill also enjoys support from the state's Department of Health, Department of Education and the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

In its written testimony, the state's health department argued that "the unprecedented youth vaping epidemic in Hawaii" poses seious public health risks. It cited a sixfold increase in vaping among middle school students and a sixfold increase among high school youth. That would put vaping rates among young Hawaiians at twice the national average.

"Those who use flavored tobacco products are more likely to progress to regular smoking," the study said, noting the growing scale of the global e-cigarette industry, now valued at over $10 billion.

Vaporizing an industry

Purveyors of tobacco and electronic cigarettes were opposed to the measure. Cory Smith, who runs Volcano Fine Electronic Cigarettes, wrote to the committee that his company was the largest retailer and wholesaler of vapor products in the state, and argued that the bill would "decimate" the Hawaii vapor industry.

Smith wrote that e-cigarettes don't contain actual tobacco, so therefore "every electronic cigarette available on the worldwide market is 'flavored,'" and even the e-cigarettes advertised as having a basic "tobacco flavor" had to have that flavor synthetically added.

He said the bill was a "de facto ban of the manufacture and sale of all electronic cigarettes."

Though health groups largely argue that flavored e-cigarettes are a gateway drug for young people into more dangerous nicotine products, Smith argued they can have an opposite effect in long-term adult smokers.

He cited a recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental and Public Health, in which 49% of adults surveyed told researchers that removing flavors would increase their cravings for actual cigarettes.

In his letter, Smith told the committee the bill would hurt adults who'd cut their smoking habit, and "decrease their chances of remaining abstinent from smoking."

The FDA is looking at similar measures

Last November, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced federal-level plans aimed at preventing a new generation from getting addicted to nicotine. He said the FDA wanted to "combat youth access and appeal with a policy framework that firmly and directly addresses the core of the epidemic -- flavors."

He stopped short of pushing for an outright ban on flavors, but advocated sweeping restrictions in how and where the products are sold. Gottlieb's plans call for electronic nicotine delivery systems to be sold only in age-restricted, in-person locations that prevented those under age 18 from entering. That proposal would also apply to e-liquid flavors like cherry and vanilla.

But the FDA would allow a carve-out around mint and menthol flavors for adults who relied on these basic flavors to moderate addictions to actual cigarettes. According to Gottlieb's announcement, "This distinction among flavors seeks to maintain access for adult users of these products, including adults who live in rural areas and may not have access to an age-restricted location, while evidence of their impacts continues to develop."

While tamping down on the more enticing flavors, the FDA's framework would continue to monitor research on whether the mint and menthol flavors also contribute to rises in youth smoking.

Hawaii has a recent history of progressive 'firsts'

But Hawaii's bill shows many in the state aren't willing to wait for Washington. Valerie Chang, who heads the Hawaii COPD Coalition, offered written testimony to the committee: "We know rule-making at the federal level often takes a long time, which is why state-level action on menthol and other flavored products is needed now."

Being isolated in the Pacific, and with a small, predominantly liberal population, Hawaii has emerged as a testing ground for a range of progressive policy experiments. It was the first state to raise the legal smoking age to 21. And because Hawaii is particularly vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels, lawmakers made it the first state to commit to the goals of the Paris climate accord and banned certain types of sunscreen to protect Hawaii's coral reefs. They also committed to using only renewable energy by 2045.

Joshua Stanbro, Honolulu's chief resilience officer, told CNN, "When you are in an island, you can't run away from your problems."

And it's not even the first time this year lawmakers have swung for the fences against tobacco.

Earlier this year, Rep. Richard Creagan proposed a bill that would have raised the age to buy cigarettes in the state to 100, effectively banning them. His bill proved too ambitious in committee, though, and didn't advance to a floor vote.

West Lafayette
Few Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 95°
Kokomo
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 91°
Rensselaer
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 90°
Fowler
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 90°
Williamsport
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 94°
Crawfordsville
Broken Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 93°
Frankfort
Scattered Clouds
91° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 97°
Delphi
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 91°
Monticello
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 91°
Logansport
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 92°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 47432

Reported Deaths: 2687
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11546683
Lake5104242
Elkhart321144
Allen2737129
St. Joseph190866
Cass16389
Hamilton1538100
Hendricks1390100
Johnson1256118
Porter72037
Tippecanoe6948
Madison65564
Clark64044
Bartholomew58244
Howard56557
LaPorte56326
Kosciusko5354
Vanderburgh5026
Marshall4823
Jackson4693
Noble46928
LaGrange4677
Hancock44035
Boone43743
Delaware43150
Shelby42325
Floyd37144
Morgan32731
Montgomery29320
Grant29126
Clinton2882
Monroe27628
Dubois2666
White26010
Henry25815
Decatur24932
Lawrence24225
Vigo2318
Dearborn22823
Harrison21222
Warrick21229
Greene18532
Miami1822
Jennings17411
Putnam1688
DeKalb1604
Scott1607
Daviess14216
Orange13623
Wayne1366
Steuben1282
Perry1279
Franklin1248
Ripley1157
Jasper1142
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette987
Newton9810
Starke923
Whitley905
Randolph784
Huntington742
Jefferson722
Wells711
Fulton691
Jay680
Washington681
Gibson672
Knox640
Pulaski641
Clay604
Rush563
Adams501
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown381
Posey380
Blackford372
Spencer371
Crawford300
Fountain302
Tipton301
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike100
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events