WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — The House passed legislation that supporters say will help reduce the number of teens using e-cigarettes.
The U.S. Surgeon General has declared teen smoking rates an epidemic, and many lawmakers say the White House’s recent action to stop teen smoking did not go nearly far enough.
U.S. Reps Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, and Frank Pallone, D-NJ, say the plan would ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. It would outlaw online sales of e-cigarettes, and force e-cigarette manufacturers to pay new taxes.
Pallone said the bill was a “multi-prong approach that tackles all the reasons and ways that kids are using the products.”
Schakowsky urged lawmakers to “pass this legislation for our kids.”
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-IL, says the tax will help the FDA regulate e-cigarette sales.
“That then gives us the resources we from a public health epidemic perspective to address this,” she said. “Kids are getting addicted.”
Five Republicans voted yes on the bill, which had overwhelming Democratic support. However, 17 Democrats voted against the legislation.
U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-NY, says the bill would have unintended consequences in minority communities where menthol cigarettes are especially popular.
“Law enforcement would have an additional reason to stop and frisk menthol tobacco users because menthol would be considered illegal under this ban,” Clarke said.
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-OR, led the Republican opposition to the bill, calling it government overreach that penalizes lawful adult tobacco users while ignoring flavored marijuana products.
“What it does is make legal products for adults illegal,” Walden said. “But you can still go to the pot store and get this.”
The legislation now heads to the Senate. The White House says it will veto the plan.