City Coun­cil seeks lim­its on va­p­ing

Bills would ban fla­vors while also plac­ing re­stric­tions on tobacco prod­ucts

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Sarah Mee­han

Bal­ti­more City Coun­cil mem­bers have in­tro­duced a pack­age of leg­is­la­tion aimed at curb­ing smok­ing and va­p­ing.

The three bills look to broaden the def­i­ni­tion of smok­ing de­vices and ban the sale of fla­vored va­p­ing liq­uids, as well as call for tobacco re­tail­ers to post in­for­ma­tion about smok­ing risks and ces­sa­tion and carry nico­tine re­place­ment prod­ucts such as patches and gum.

City leg­is­la­tors worked with the Bal­ti­more City Health Depart­ment for most of the year to craft the bills.

“We tried to fig­ure out what can we do lo­cally that is go­ing to have the most bang for the buck,” said D’Paul Nib­ber, the health depart­ment’s leg­isla­tive af­fairs di­rec­tor.

That meant mak­ing tobacco harder to get, harder to use and eas­ier to quit, he said.

“I firmly be­lieve the so­lu­tion is to take ex­ist­ing smok­ers and get them to re­ally se­ri­ously think about quit­ting,” Nib­ber said. “We know the com­mu­ni­ties in Bal­ti­more City that are hardest hit by tobacco — we’re talk­ing about East Bal­ti­more, West Bal­ti­more, es­sen­tially the black but­ter­fly, and it’s re­ally stark.”

Coun­cil­man Leon F. Pin­kett III said he hopes his bill, which would ex­pand the def­i­ni­tion of smok­ing de­vices and ban fla­vored va­p­ing liq­uids, de­creases smok­ing rates among young peo­ple with whom vape pens have be­come a pop­u­lar al­ter­na­tive to tra­di­tional cig­a­rettes.

“For many young peo­ple, they don’t even see it as smok­ing, they see it as a harm­less ac­tiv­ity,” Pin­kett said. “They say, ‘Oh, no, I would never smoke,’ and re­ally look scorn­fully on smok­ing. But if you men­tion va­p­ing and men­tion the fla­vors there is an en­tice­ment and ap­peal as­so­ci­ated with that ac­tiv­ity.”

His bill, in­tro­duced Thurs­day, would ban vape pen liq­uid fla­vors, in­clud­ing fruit, cho­co­late, vanilla, honey, candy, herbs and spices. It would also ex­pand the def­i­ni­tion of elec­tronic smok­ing de­vices to in­clude “any elec­tronic or bat­tery-op­er­ated prod­uct that con­tains or de­liv­ers nico­tine or any other sub­stance in­tended for hu­man con­sump­tion” used for “in­hal­ing va­por or aerosol from the prod­uct, whether man­u­fac­tured, dis­trib­uted, mar­keted or sold as an e-cig­a­rette, e-cigar, e-pipe, e-hookah, or vape pen, or un­der any other prod­uct name or de­scrip­tor.”

Cur­rent law only iden­ti­fies elec­tronic cig­a­rettes, elec­tronic cigars and elec­tronic pipes in the def­i­ni­tion of elec­tronic smok­ing de­vices — items also pro­hib­ited in ar­eas with smok­ing bans.

Pin­kett’s bill aligns with a cur­rent ef­fort by the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion to limit the sale of sweet e-cig­a­rette fla­vors. The city leg­is­la­tion also looks to en­sure fa­cil­i­ties where liq­uids for vape pens and e-cig­a­rettes are man­u­fac­tured are san­i­tary.

“I think we have an­other op­por­tu­nity maybe not to re­peat some of the er­rors of the past and that’s why this piece of leg­is­la­tion is so crit­i­cal to me,” Pin­kett said.

The Amer­i­can Va­p­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, a non­profit that ad­vo­cates for what it calls sen­si­ble pol­icy to­ward va­p­ing prod­ucts, op­poses mea­sures like this one.

“Pas­sage of this or­di­nance will con­sti­tute a gi­ant gift to Big Tobacco, which will be able to con­tinue to sell deadly men­thol cig­a­rettes, all while not fac­ing com­pe­ti­tion from smoke-free prod­ucts that have been es­ti­mated by in­ter­na­tional ex­perts as be­ing at least 95 per­cent less hazardous than smok­ing,” said Gre­gory Con­ley, pres­i­dent of the as­so­ci­a­tion.

“Ac­cord­ing to the [Cen­ters for Dis­ease Control], va­p­ing prod­ucts are the most pop­u­lar quit smok­ing tool on the U.S. mar­ket,” he said.

Two other bills filed in tan­dem with Pin­kett’s would place ad­di­tional re­quire­ments on stores that carry tobacco and other smok­ing prod­ucts.

Coun­cil­man John Bul­lock spon­sored leg­is­la­tion that would re­quire shops that sell tobacco prod­ucts to promi­nently dis­play signs de­tail­ing health risks as­so­ci­ated with tobacco, as well as in­for­ma­tion about quit­ting smok­ing.

“We just wanted to make sure that peo­ple have as much in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble as it re­lates to the neg­a­tive ef­fects,” said Bul­lock, adding that he hopes such sig­nage would de­crease smok­ing rates.

An­other bill, spon­sored by Coun­cil­man Kris­ter­fer Bur­nett, would re­quire stores that sell tobacco to also of­fer nico­tine re­place­ment­ther­apy prod­ucts. Bur­nett said his bill is aimed at cre­at­ing ac­cess to smok­ing ces­sa­tion prod­ucts where they are not read­ily avail­able, in­clud­ing in some of the pre­dom­i­nantly black neigh­bor­hoods in his dis­trict.

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