MARYLAND — Regulators in Maryland are cracking down and closing what they say is a loophole in federal vaping regulations.
Maryland will become the first state to ban all flavors of disposable e-cigarettes except for tobacco and menthol, the state’s comptroller announced Monday.
Comptroller Peter Franchot instituted a statewide ban on disposable e-cigarettes with flavors other than tobacco or menthol, a prohibition designed to close a loophole in the federal policy, which only covers flavored cartridge-based electronic smoking devices.
Franchot, who is planning to run for governor in 2022, said he instructed his field enforcement division to halt the sale of disposable electronic smoking devices most widely used by children.
“As the state’s tobacco regulator, it’s my legal and moral responsibility to protect consumers, especially children, from the hazardous substances contained in these unauthorized products.”Franchot said in a statement.
He issues licenses for retailers that want to sell tobacco products and said that if they do not comply, they could be penalized or have their licenses suspended or revoked.
Franchot’s office sent the state’s tobacco retailers and wholesalers a notice, warning that the state will discipline any store caught selling the products.
About 99 percent of e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which can cause addiction and harm the developing brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ingesting e-cigarette liquids may also be toxic, federal health officials advised.
There were more than 2,500 hospitalizations for lung injuries associated with vaping products, including 54 deaths, as of December 2019, according to the CDC.
About 37 percent of high school seniors reported vaping in 2018, compared with 27 percent in 2017, according to the National Institutes of Health.
After determining flavors were driving youth preference for e-cigarettes, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration began cracking down on flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes in February.
The administration’s flavored vaping product guidance, which took effect last week, banned popular cartridge-based fruit and mint flavors but not tobacco and menthol.
Disposable e-cigarettes, open tank systems and e-liquids of any flavor, including those mixed in vape shops, remain available under the policy.
The administration’s decision left public health advocates and many lawmakers unsatisfied with what they saw as a gigantic exemption for the industry.
Disposable e-cigarettes are generally cheaper than the other products and have rapidly gained popularity among young people as regulators have cracked down on other devices.
The comptroller’s office said in a statement, posting a bulletin about the targeted enforcement on its website: The Maryland Comptroller’s Field Enforcement Division will be on the lookout for disposable electronic smoking products particularly popular with children, with flavors like strawberry hard candy, pineapple lemonade, mango bomb, berry gelato, lush ice and O.M.G.( a mixture of orange, mango, and guava.)
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