Romney, Merkley Introduce Bill to Address Vaping Crisis
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today introduced the Ending New Nicotine Dependencies (ENND) Act, legislation that would regulate e-cigarette standards and protect public health by prohibiting non-tobacco flavors and ensuring that electronic nicotine delivery systems are tamper-proof. Additionally, the ENND Act would require HHS to conduct a robust public awareness campaign to educate the public about the dangers of vaping, which would be funded by applying the existing tobacco excise tax to e-cigarettes. A summary of the legislation is below. 
                      
“With nearly a quarter of high school students vaping regularly, we must take decisive action to prevent a new generation from addiction and serious health risks,” Romney said. “Let’s begin by passing legislation which ensures that non-tobacco flavored vaping products are removed from the market and prevents vaping devices from being adulterated with hazardous substances. The ENND Act will address both of these concerns, as well as apply the existing tobacco excise tax to e-cigarettes and use it to launch a public awareness campaign.”
                    
“Vaping companies have hooked millions of our children on nicotine using e-cigarette flavors like ‘gummy bear,’ ‘scooby snacks,’ and ‘strawberries and cream.’ This means massive health consequences for the next generation, and we have to end this addiction crisis,” said Merkley. “We need to get these flavors off the market. In addition, refillable cartridges are an invitation to hazardous concoctions, and we need to get them off the market too. That’s exactly what our bill does. The federal government should have done this long ago, and we should take these actions now without delay.”
                          
“We applaud Senators Romney and Merkley for working to protect kids from e-cigarettes. Their bill properly focuses on addressing both the lung disease issues and the epidemic of youth use of these products. This is an issue that requires bold, urgent action. We are delighted to be working with them during the legislative process to help find the best possible solutions to both of these problems,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
                        
“University of Utah Health (UUH) is a regional leader in the clinical understanding of e-cigarette and vaping related lung disease and injury. UUH supports efforts to decrease the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping. Vaping is especially dangerous to our youth due to risks of addiction and lung disease. UUH supports the legislative concepts of making tamperproof e-cigarette delivery systems and elimination of flavors in e-cigarettes,” said Michael L. Good, MD, CEO of University of Utah Health.
                                                                                 
The Ending New Nicotine Dependencies (ENND) Act would:
  • Ban e-cigarettes from containing flavors other than tobacco;
  • Require standards on the permissible design of e-cigarettes, and issue guidance for manufacturers to implement such standards;
  • Monitor the public health risks associated with use of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes;
  • Apply existing tobacco excise tax to e-cigarettes;
  • Direct HHS to conduct a public awareness campaign to educate the public about the health implications of using e-cigarettes.
                                                                                                                                            
Background:
  • Last Thursday, Senators Romney and Merkley met with the Acting Commissioner of the FDA to discuss the Administration’s announcement that it plans to ban all non-tobacco e-cigarette flavors.
  • Earlier last week, Romney urged the Secretary of Health and Human Services to consider a recall on e-cigarettes as the agency continues to investigate deaths and serious illnesses related to vaping, while Merkley led more than 20 of his colleagues in urging public health officials to remove products linked to lung disease from the market and to take flavored products off the market.
  • In June, Senators Romney and Mark Udall (D-NM) introduced the Smoke-Free Schools Act of 2019 to ban e-cigarette use in educational and childcare facilities.
  • In April, Senator Merkley sent a letter to FDA Acting Commissioner Ned Sharpless highlighting a recent report showing the correlation between the use of e-cigarettes and seizures, and expressing concern over the lack of action from the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes as well as the continued delays on research into the effects of e-cigarettes on public health.
  • In April, Romney helped introduce the bipartisan Tobacco to 21 Act, legislation that would prohibit the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to anyone under the age of 21.
  • In March, Merkley helped introduce the Preventing Opportunities for E-Cigarette and Tobacco Addiction Act, to create an initiative within the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to prevent and research youth tobacco use and the reasons for its increasing popularity.