WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) voted in favor of H.R. 2339, the Protecting American Lungs and Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act. The bill, which passed the House 213-195, includes a ban on the manufacturing and sale of flavored e-cigarettes and tobacco, which are used for vaping.

The bill comes on the heels of some stark statistics.

The number of vaping deaths have climbed over 50 as the outbreak of lung injury cases have topped 2,500 nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Dec. 17, there were 2,506 hospitalized cases of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury, which is now referred to as EVALI by the CDC. The incidents were reported in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands, since the summer.

Fifty-four deaths have been confirmed in 27 states and the District of Columbia.

Also included in the House bill is a measure from Dr. Ruiz’s No VAPE Act, which would require harsher penalties on retailers who sell tobacco and vaping products to anyone under the age of 21.

Raul Ruiz

Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D.

“As a doctor, I am all too familiar with the devastation that addiction to nicotine can cause,” Dr. Ruiz said today speaking at a press conference on the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act. “This bill takes a comprehensive, science- and medicine-backed approach to address this epidemic and prevent an entirely new generation from a life of nicotine addiction.”

You can watch Dr. Ruiz’s remarks by clicking here.

In recent years, tobacco companies have significantly stepped up the introduction and marketing of flavored tobacco products, especially e-cigarettes, with more than 15,000 flavors now available on the market.

E-cigarettes have very high levels of nicotine, placing young people at significant risk for developing nicotine addiction.  It has been found that one pod (an e-cigarette cartridge) can contain as much nicotine as a full pack of traditional cigarettes.

The bill has numerous key provisions, including the following:

  • Increases penalties on retailers who sell to people under 21 years of age, based on provisions in Dr. Ruiz’s No VAPE Act.
  • Prohibits the manufacture and sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, within one year, and removes all flavored e-cigarettes from the market within 30 days.  97 percent of youth using e-cigarettes use flavored e-cigarettes.
  • Prohibits companies from marketing or promoting e-cigarettes to youth under age 21.  We know that the vaping industry has targeted kids through social media advertisements, glossy marketing campaigns, and other kid-friendly platforms.  About 95 percent of adult smokers start before age 21 and young people who do not begin smoking by their early 20s are unlikely to ever start.
  • Directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prohibit non-face-to-face (online) sales of most tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, thereby blocking a key path for high schoolers to obtain tobacco products, many of which are sold online with limited or no age verification requirements.
  • Requires the Federal Trade Commission to issue an annual report to Congress on the domestic sales, advertising, and promotional activities of cigarette, cigar, smokeless tobacco, and e-cigarette manufacturers.

Image Sources

  • Raul Ruiz: Raul Ruiz
  • Young woman vaping: Shutterstock